Speeches 2000 - Thursday, 14 September 2000
Friday, 15 September 2000
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate.
1. "Peace be with you" (Jn 20,19). I welcome you with Christ's Easter greeting to his Apostles, which harmonizes well with your Jubilee celebration today. Indeed, it aims at reconciliation and peace with God and with our brothers and sisters. This is true for all the faithful, but particularly for us Bishops, who are called to be "examples to the flock" (1P 5,3).
Everyone needs peace. In a special way, however, each of those who, like you, are participating in the "sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum" proper to the Bishop of Rome, has the task of contributing with all his energy to the ministry of communion that Christ entrusted to Peter and to his Successors, and thus must be a "man in peace" and a "man of peace".
This demanding task means that I feel particularly close to you even when you are in your offices, located in various parts of the world. Because of this closeness which is daily nourished and strengthened by prayer, I am pleased to extend my very cordial greetings to you today, in the context of the Great Jubilee. I would then like to offer a special word of affection to those among you who are more advanced in age and service, and have generously faced the "pondus diei et aestus" in places that are often difficult due to their sociopolitical situation or climate.
2. You are, in fact, the Pope's representatives to national governments or supranational institutions, but, first and foremost, you are witnesses of his ministry of unity in the local Churches, to whose Pastors you assure the possibility of constant contact with the Apostolic See. Another task, which under the impetus of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council has been growing in importance in recent years, is your service to that full unity of all Christians, the desire of Christ's heart and, consequently, also ardently desired by the Pope and by the Episcopal College. Moreover, we should not forget the great contribution you are called to make in the search for and consolidation of a harmonious relationship with all believers in God, and of sincere dialogue with people of good will.
In this service you are following in the footsteps of many famous figures, some of whom shone for their authentic holiness of life. And how can we not forget with deep joy that the two Popes just recently presented as models of Christian virtue to the whole Church, Bl. Pius IX and Bl. John XXIII, were both, as it were, your "colleagues" in the diplomatic service of the Holy See? Certainly you feel them especially close and this encourages you in spiritual communion with them and in your desire to imitate their example.
3. For each of you, the motto of Pope John XXIII in particular can be a very valid programme: Oboedientia et pax. Letting one's own deepest feelings be inspired by this will certainly be an effective antidote against the discouragement or sadness which could overwhelm you when a long-cherished initiative does not produce the desired results, when a step taken with the noblest of objectives is misunderstood, or even when less pleasant human aspects emerge in the situations of life or in the actual organization of your work. The Lord permits many things ... and we sometimes find it hard to recognize the threads of grace of which our lives and the events of history are woven.
May the words of the Apostle Paul to the Romans then come to our rescue: "In everything God works for good with those who love him" (Rm 8,28). The spiritual secret of Bl. John XXIII consisted in his ability to turn every situation into an opportunity for good, with the inner power of prayer: his day, his anxieties, his joys and his sadnesses, the passing of the years.... In fact, anyone who reads his daily journal can only be fascinated by the richness of his spiritual life, nourished by constant dialogue with God in every circumstance, in daily fidelity even to obscure, monotonous or burdensome duties.
This is a significant aspect of his holiness, together with respect for his collaborators for whom he had sentiments of paternal and fraternal affection. I am speaking here of a characteristic dimension of your experience in the Nunciatures where a small group of people lives in close, daily contact.
Collaboration can sometimes be difficult, because of differences in age, nationality, upbringing and mentality. May the Lord grant that you create a good working community, for the benefit and edification of each one, as well as for the service entrusted to you.
4. Here I would like to emphasize the Nuncio's commitment to the Church in the country to which he is sent as Papal Representative. It is an important and delicate service, to be carried out in the ecclesiological perspective of communion, emphasized by the Second Vatican Council (cf. Christus Dominus CD 9 CIC 364). In fact it is a service of communion that you are called to render: a service that by its nature cannot be confined to cold bureaucratic intermediation but must be an authentic pastoral presence. The Nuncio - do not forget - is also a Pastor, and must make his own the spirit of Christ the "Good Shepherd"!
If on the one hand he expresses this "pastorality" as a representative of Peter's Successor, on the other, he must feel himself fraternally close to the Pastors of the local Churches, sharing in their apostolic concern with prayer, witness and those forms of presence and ministry that are timely and useful to the People of God, with respect for each Bishop's individual responsibility.
When lived in this way, dear Nuncios, your ministry will clearly create the necessary bond between the particular and universal dimensions of the Church. By helping the Successor of Christ to tend Christ's flock, you help the particular Churches to grow and to develop. In this service you may often find yourselves facing problems, difficulties and tensions. I warmly thank you for the very valuable contribution of your experience, through which you combine sensitivity for the Churches and societies in which you work with fidelity to the inspiring guidelines of the action of the Holy See, in both the ecclesial and civil sectors.
5. Actually, the possibility of having a direct experience of legitimate diversity in the Church while respecting the rightful unity is a gift that is certainly a cause of human and spiritual enrichment for you and compensates you in some way for the sacrifices you have faced in changes of climate, language, mentality, culture and living conditions. During my apostolic journeys, I have had opportunities to know you better, visiting you in your respective work places. I remember that I once said to one of you, when I was about to take my leave: "Today is the day of liberation for you". With that playful remark I intended to show that I had understood what the preparation and organization of an Apostolic Visit means for a Nuncio; it was a way of expressing my appreciation, which I reiterate here to each of you.
I have great esteem for your commitment to acting as intermediaries between the Holy See and the local Episcopates, as well as for all the work of mediation that you carry out with regard to the political and social institutions of the countries in which you work, or in the relationship with the international organizations to which you are sent. Your constant goal is to promote peace, genuine peace, which only exists when it rests on pillars of truth, justice, freedom and solidarity (cf. Encyclical Pacem in terris PT 49-55 PT 64). This commitment, as you well know, is expressed in practice in the fight against poverty and the promotion of integral human development, because it is only on these premises that true and lasting peace can be founded among the earth's peoples, with respect for the fundamental rights of the human person who is an image of God.
6. In your work you can count on the prestige of a diplomacy with a centuries-old history which has been enriched by the contribution of men celebrated for their balance, wisdom and keen sense of Church. May their example remain for each of you as a paradigm to look to for direction and support.
However, over and above every even noble human reference, the true light comes to you from Christ and from his Gospel. The gifts of human prudence, intelligence and sensitivity must be wedded, in each of you, to the spirit of the Beatitudes. In a certain sense the "diplomacy of the Gospel" must be yours! Here, in this spiritual aspiration, your strength and secret lie. For this reason faith in Christ must be the flame that brightens and warms each one of your days.
You have wished to confirm and strengthen this faith with your Jubilee pilgrimage. You have made it, in some cases, with many sacrifices. In expressing my gratitude to you also for this testimony of faith and communion, I assure you of my constant remembrance in prayer. Today I also celebrated Mass for all the Nuncios.
I entrust each of you and your work to the maternal protection of the Most Holy Virgin and, in also asking you for the kindness of remembering me and my ministry frequently, especially in the celebration of Holy Mass, I affectionately impart to each one of you my Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly extend to those who work with you and to your loved ones.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am particularly pleased to welcome you this morning, religious and lay people of the Jesus and Mary Family, who have come from many countries to make your Jubilee pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostles.
The step of faith you have taken expresses well the objective of your spiritual family, which is "to know Jesus Christ better and to work in the Church to make God and his merciful kindness known". Indeed, during this year when we are celebrating the 2,000th anniversary of the Saviour's birth, the whole Church is invited to lift her gaze in a new way to the Lord Jesus, who reveals to humanity the face of God the Father, "merciful and compassionate" and who, by sending the Holy Spirit, makes known the mystery of love which is the Trinity (cf. Bull Incarnationis mysterium, n. 3).
I therefore warmly encourage you generously to renew the gift of yourselves to Christ, accepting his gift of himself to you and remaining in close union with him. In your life as disciples of Christ, as well as in your apostolic commitments, keep a vivid ecclesial awareness alive within you. Religious of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary and your associated lay members, through fruitful collaboration in the service of the Church's mission of salvation, be ever more effective signs of the presence of Christ the Saviour among his human brothers and sisters, especially the littlest! May no one feel excluded from the love which the Father offers to all his children!
Following St Claudine Thévenet, be to everyone, especially to young people and children, fervent witnesses of forgiveness and mercy, looking at them in a way that enables you to discover in each one a promise, an expectation, an epiphany of the divine presence (cf. Homily for the canonization of Claudine Thévenet, 21 March 1993). Like your foundress and inspirer, draw your missionary energy from the source of the Heart of Christ and the Heart of his Mother, so that "love will be, as it were, the apple of your eye" (St Claudine Thévenet).
I entrust you present here, as well as all the religious and lay members of the Jesus and Mary Family, to the loving intercession of the Immaculate Virgin, and I cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to each one.
Dear Brothers and Sisters.
1. I am pleased to meet you at this special audience, which fits opportunely into the programme of your Jubilee pilgrimage. I extend my cordial welcome to you.
You come from different localities and have arrived in Rome on the day on which the Church commemorates the holy martyrs, St Cornelius, Pope and St Cyprian, Bishop. Your presence in the Eternal City, where numerous believers, together with the Apostles Peter and Paul, have borne their courageous witness to Christ, offers you the possibility of reflecting on your Christian commitment and on the demand for coherent testimony that stems from it.
I cordially hope that by following the example of these courageous witnesses of faith and invoking their protection you may be strengthened in your Christian resolutions, so as to continue on your journey of holiness with renewed enthusiasm, faithful to the Gospel and to the Church's teaching.
2. I affectionately greet the pilgrims who have come from the Dioceses of Sorrento-Castellamare di Stabia and of Castellaneta, accompanied by their respective Pastors, Bishop Felice Cece and Bishop Martino Scarafile, whom I greet with fraternal affection.
Dear brothers and sisters, I hope that your passage through the Holy Door will find you prepared to receive the riches that God wants to pour into souls on the occasion of the Jubilee celebrations.
For you and for your communities, this is a special occasion for spiritual growth, which absolutely must not be wasted.
The Jubilee takes the form of a year of grace and mercy for all believers, who are called to express gratitude and praise to God for his gifts. It is also a favourable time for a more informed recourse to the Sacraments, which are a privileged means of grace desired by Christ for sanctification. The Eucharist, in particular, contains all the mysteries of the Redemption: in it the Father continues to give us the divine person of the Incarnate Son for humanity's salvation.
The Eucharist must therefore be given priority in ecclesial life, so that the Church and every believer can draw from it the indispensable strength to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel Message to everyone. The Eucharist is also the celebration of the Pasch of the Lord, in itself a missionary event in which that inseparable link is created between communion and mission, which makes the Church the sacrament of unity of the entire human race.
May your diocesan communities draw from the celebration of the Eucharist the inner conviction and spiritual strength to grow in love and to open themselves to other poorer Churches, in greater need of support in the area of evangelization and missionary cooperation.
3. I now extend a cordial greeting to the other groups and individual pilgrims present, especially the faithful from various parishes. May your communities be places of encounter with Christ, in prayer and brotherhood. This will enable you to welcome those who live somewhat on the fringes of the Church, helping them to rediscover in her the family of God's children.
I joyfully welcome the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate, who during these days are celebrating their General Chapter in which they intend to reawaken in their institute a more vivid awareness of the original charism: the passion for proclaiming the Gospel to the people. Dear sisters, open your hearts in prayer to the voice of the Spirit. Ask him to inspire in the congregation a new impetus for the kingdom of God. The third millennium awaits people burning with the love of Christ, who can proclaim salvation to the new generations with incisive effectiveness. I pray for you that the decisions which you will reach during the Chapter will fully reflect the Lord's will.
I am also pleased to welcome the large group of administrators and personnel of the Catholic Insurance Company of Verona, who have come here to reconfirm their faith and the roots from which their esteemed company draws inspiration for its activities. To be called "Catholic" is indeed a heavy responsibility. I therefore encourage each of you always to remain consistent with the values the Church professes, while I express my appreciation for all the institute does to increase cooperation and social solidarity.
I now extend a special word of greeting to the representatives of the Paul VI Insitute of Brescia and of the Edizioni Studium publishers in Rome, whom I thank for the tribute of their recent publication on Pope Paul VI. I also greet the various associations and groups present, in particular, the retired Alpine troops here in great numbers, and the members of the Camunni Group from the Hermitage of Bienno in the Diocese of Brescia. May the Jubilee experience be an effective incentive of love, justice and peace for everyone so as to renew every walk of life in Christ.
4. I am pleased to greet the participants in the Second International Congress of the Central European Vascular Forum, gathered in Rome to discuss different vascular pathologies and new techniques to treat them. May these deliberations serve to strengthen the international resolve to put medical knowledge and expertise at the service of all people without distinction, and to use advances in medical science to safeguard and defend human life at every stage of its existence.
Thank you for your presence, and may the Lord bless you and your families with his grace and peace.
5. A special thought goes to the group of Basilian Fathers, Sisters Handmaids of Mary Immaculate and the lay members of the Ukrainian Greek-Orthodox Church who have come from the Archdiocese of Lviv. Dear people, I hope that the gift of the Jubilee pilgrimage and the experience of your visit to the tombs of the Apostles will serve to strengthen your adherence to the Gospel and your communion in love with the only Church of Christ.
6. As I invoke on all those present the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, on this Saturday that is especially dedicated to her, I sincerely impart to you and your families my Apostolic Blessing.
I am very pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the State of Israel to the Holy See. My thoughts at this moment are of a deep and abiding gratitude: gratitude to God who in this year of the Great Jubilee led my pilgrim steps to the Holy Land and its peoples; gratitude to the civil and religious authorities for the welcome and attention they gave me during the intense days of my visit in March.
The Holy Land will always occupy a central place in the minds and hearts of Jews, Christians and Muslims. The Year 2000, with its commemoration of the birth of Jesus, could not but draw the loving attention of millions of Christian people in every corner of the earth to the places where Jesus lived, died and rose again. The vivid experience of my pilgrimage to the Holy Places lives on in my spirit as an extraordinary grace of God and a kind of testimony that I would like to leave, especially to the younger generation, as an invitation to build a new era of relations between Christians and Jews.
I hope above all that the religious nature of that visit will not be forgotten. My overriding purpose was to go from one Holy Place to another in a spirit of prayer, knowing that this "helps us not only to live our life as a journey, but also gives us a vivid sense of a God who has gone before us and leads us on, who himself set out on man’s path, a God who does not look down on us from on high, but who became our travelling companion" (Letter concerning Pilgrimage to the Places linked to the History of Salvation, 29 June 1999, No. 10).
The Church is fully aware that "she draws sustenance from the root of that good olive tree on to which have been grafted the wild olive branches of the Gentiles" (Nostra Aetate NAE 4). The spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is so great and so vital to the religious and moral health of the human family that every effort must be made to advance and expand our dialogue, especially on biblical, theological and ethical matters. And a fresh mutual and sincere attempt must be made at every level to help Christians and Jews to know, respect and esteem more fully each other’s beliefs and traditions. This is the surest way to overcome the prejudices of the past and to raise a barrier against the forms of anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia which are re-appearing in some places today. Today as always, it is not genuine religious faith and practice which give rise to the tragedy of discrimination and persecution, but loss of faith and the rise of a selfish and materialistic outlook bereft of true values, a culture of emptiness. Therefore your words, Mr Ambassador, about the need for moral leadership in responding to some of the more daunting challenges facing mankind in the new millennium find a ready echo in the convictions of the Holy See.
A continuing source of sadness is the elusive character of a definitive peace in the Middle East. We all rejoice every time a step forward is announced in the complex negotiations which have become an essential feature of relations between Israel and its neighbours, especially the Palestinian Authority. The continuation of dialogue and negotiation is itself a significant development. And it is important to acknowledge just how substantial is the progress made so far, lest those involved be discouraged at the size of the task still ahead. Sometimes the obstacles to peace appear so great and so many that to face them seems humanly impossible. But what seemed unthinkable even a few short years ago is now a reality or at least a matter of open discussion, and this must convince all concerned that a solution is possible. It must encourage everyone to press forward with hope and perseverance.
Concerning the delicate question of Jerusalem, what is important is that the way forward be the path of dialogue and agreement, not force and imposition. And what is of special concern to the Holy See is that the unique religious character of the Holy City be preserved by a special, internationally guaranteed statute. The history and present reality of interreligious relations in the Holy Land is such that no just and lasting peace is foreseeable without some form of support from the international community. The purpose of this international support would be the conservation of the cultural and religious patrimony of the Holy City, a patrimony which belongs to Jews, Christians and Muslims all over the world and to the entire international community. In fact, the Holy Places are not mere memorials of the past, but are and must continue to be the nerve-centre of vibrant, living and developing communities of believers, free in the exercise of their rights and duties, and living in harmony with one another. What is at stake is not just the preservation of and free access to the holy places of the three religions, but also the free exercise of the religious and civil rights pertaining to the members, places and activities of the various communities. The end result must be – as I said during my visit – a Jerusalem and a Holy Land in which the various religious communities succeed in living and working together in friendship and harmony, a Jerusalem that will truly be a City of Peace for all peoples. Then we shall all repeat the words of the Prophet: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, . . . that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths" (Is 2,3).
Mr Ambassador, my prayers are with you as you begin your mission as Israel’s diplomatic representative to the Holy See, and I am certain that you will do everything in your power to increase understanding and friendship between us, in the spirit of the Fundamental Agreement and the other documents which are intended to guarantee its application. Likewise, the various offices of the Roman Curia will willingly cooperate with you as you discharge your high duties. May goodness and kindness follow you all the days of your life (cf. Ps Ps 22,6).
I am very pleased to have this opportunity to greet you during these days of your meeting here in Rome. You are now in the third phase of the International Dialogue between the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Catholic Church, a dialogue which began shortly after the Second Vatican Council and which has already led to significant results.
Within the ecumenical movement, theological dialogue is the proper setting for us to face together the issues over which Christians have been divided and to build together the unity to which Christ calls his disciples (cf. Jn Jn 17,21). In this dialogue we clarify our respective positions and explore the reasons for our differences. Our dialogue then becomes an examination of conscience, a call to conversion, in which both sides examine before God their responsibility to do all that they can to put behind them the conflicts of the past. At that point, the Spirit fills us with a yearning to confess together that "there is one body and one Spirit, . . . one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all" (Ep 4,4-6). And we feel this as a duty, as something that must be done so that "the world may believe" (Jn 17,21). For this reason the commitment of the Catholic Church to ecumenical dialogue is irrevocable.
In this third phase, your dialogue has as its theme "Church and the Kingdom of God". In recent history we have seen the agony caused by ideologies which have sought to displace God and his reign. How important it is, at the beginning of the new millennium, for all Christians, long separated from one another, to feel deeply challenged by the Lord’s exhortation: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mc 1,15). May your dialogue embody the spirit of fraternal love and esteem needed to embrace these words of our Savior.
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1Co 1,3).
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Priests and Deacons,
Dear Sisters and dear Brothers.
1. After celebrating the Eucharist with your Cardinal Archbishop at the tomb of the Apostles in St Peter's Basilica, the rock on which God's house is built, you want to meet the Successor of Peter. So welcome to you all! In particular, I greet Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, who, together with a large group of Bishops has accompanied your pilgrimage to Rome.
2. Today, before Holy Mass, you entered St Peter's Basilica with awareness. You passed through the Holy Door which stays open throughout the Jubilee of the Year 2000. The Holy Door is the image of Christ, who said of himself: "I am the door". Your festive procession should not only be an exterior rite, but also the sign of an interior choice. Therefore Christ is demanding. He invites people to make decisions. It was not by chance that he promised his disciples: "If any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture" (Jn 10,9).
Today people find themselves facing numerous open doors. For young people in particular, it is difficult to choose among so many doors the one which gives meaning and truth to their lives. It is not easy to refuse certain external pleasures and to immerse oneself in profound and silent inner joy.
Thus the door of life is undoubtedly demanding. Those who want to pass through it must make themselves small so that Christ can grow. They must leave behind all that is superfluous and marginal to make more room for Christ.
3. I am glad, because by passing through the Holy Door you want to show: we are determined to cross the threshold of the third millennium with Jesus Christ. I also invite you to pray especially for the young people who, in these years that are so important for them, must make decisions for their lives. May the Holy Spirit grant them the inventiveness, strength and courage to choose the way through the narrow door, despite the difficulties (cf. Mt Mt 7,13).
May the experience of this pilgrimage strengthen you personally, so that you can proclaim your love from the horizon that Jesus Christ unfolded to us men and women 2,000 years ago: "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10,10).
I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to your entire diocesan family.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus" (1Co 16,23-24). How rich his grace is in this year of the Great Jubilee! And how abundantly is the love of the Most Holy Trinity poured out on us! In the joy of the Jubilee, I am pleased to greet you at the moment of your visit to the Successor of Peter, while you are celebrating the General Chapter of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
In this year of the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Our Lord and Saviour, the whole Church sings God's praise. But for you, this thanksgiving hymn rings out with a very special note of joy, for you are celebrating the second centenary of your Congregation, which was founded on the feast of Christmas in 1800. Today, with you, I glorify God for the fruits of holiness and the rich apostolate that has developed in these two centuries. I am moved to recall the figure of your good Father, Pierre Coudrin, ordained a priest at the height of the troubles and violence sparked by the French Revolution and forced to hide, as well as the example of your Mother, Henriette Aymer de la Chevalerie, who suffered imprisonment for concealing priests. In the depths of the darkness that surrounded them, they were nonetheless illumined by Christ's light and experienced the Virgin Mary's love, to the point that they felt impelled to found your Congregation. While the Revolution was raging round them, your founders understood that true freedom was only to be found in the pierced heart of Christ (cf. Jn Jn 19,34) and that those who, like Mary, shared in his Passion and had their souls pierced through by a sword (cf. Lk Lc 2,35), could attain it. Throughout their lives in those turbulent times, they proclaimed the truth of the Cross of Jesus Christ.
2. After its foundation in France, your congregation spread across the world, obeying the Lord's mandate: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28,19). Its first expansion occurred in Europe, but later it spread to the Pacific region, to Latin America, Asia and Africa until today, when you are present in more than 40 countries. This growth is a sign of the power of God which has worked in you; but a clear sign of this divine encouragement is also the witness borne by missionaries such as Bl. Damien of Molokai and Fr Eustaquio Van Lieshout - to mention only the most famous - in whom we can see the face of the crucified Christ, shining with the glory of those who sacrificed themselves to save the lives of others. How many saints and martyrs you have given to the Church! That voice which said to the paralytics of the world: "I tell you, stand up and walk", is still familiar and close to you today. Indeed, you have wished to illustrate the intentions of your General Chapter with these words of the Gospel.
3. Dear brothers and sisters, today as always the Church is called to proclaim the power of the Cross to the world. It is a power that has no need of "eloquent wisdom" (1Co 1,17), nor of "philosophy and empty deceit" (Col 2,8) nor, even less, of deceptive ideologies. What it demands of you is that like Christ himself you open your heart to be converted through a reflection of the source of living water (cf. Jn Jn 4,10), the only One that can quench the thirst of the human heart. For this, each of you must imitate the Apostle in his wish to participate in Christ's sufferings "becoming like him in his death" so that others may know him and "the power of his resurrection" (Ph 3,10).
Speeches 2000 - Thursday, 14 September 2000