Speeches 2000 - Monday, 27 November 2000
To my Venerable Brother
Cardinal Peter Seiichi Shirayanagi
Archbishop Emeritus of Tokyo
It is with joy that I have learned that the World Conference on Religion and Peace will celebrate its Thirtieth Anniversary with a commemorative event in Kyoto on November 27-28 this year. I would ask you kindly to convey to all present my best wishes and the assurance of my support. God, as the origin and destiny of all, has created us to live together in harmony. It is therefore fitting to celebrate the fact that people belonging to different religious traditions can come together and collaborate in a spirit of friendship and solidarity in building a world of peace. I pray that your endeavors will continue to be abundantly blessed with success.
The Catholic Church follows with great interest the work of reconciliation carried out by the World Conference on Religion and Peace in many parts of the world. To promote dialogue means to create bonds of friendship between peoples. It means forging new ties between groups, and teaching understanding and respect between the followers of the various religious traditions. In recent years, the World Conference on Religion and Peace has been particularly involved in reconciling communities which are divided due to conflicts and wars. Your efforts to heal those affected by hatred and violence express a truth which I too have sought to affirm on many occasions, that religion is not and must not become a pretext for hostility, in particular when religious, cultural and ethnic identities coincide.
Faced with the pressing problems of today’s global society, all religions must feel called to fresh efforts to cooperate in order to promote human life and its dignity, to defend the family, to alleviate poverty, to bring about justice, to help preserve the eco-system of our earth. We would do well to recall words of the Message from the participants in the Interreligious Assembly held in the Vatican in October 1999: "collaboration among the different religions must be based on the rejection of fanaticism, extremism and mutual antagonisms which lead to violence. We are aware of the importance of education as a means for promoting mutual understanding, cooperation and respect".
I have pleasant memories of welcoming in the Vatican Synod Hall those present at the inaugural ceremony of the Sixth Assembly of the World Conference on Religion and Peace. I would like to repeat what I said on that occasion: "Healing the world through the commitment of religions for peace means that you look in faith and hope to the One in whom we ‘live and move and have our being’ (Ac 17,28), in order to become better instruments for the accomplishment of man’s true destiny here and beyond" (Address, November 3, 1994, No. 4).
My prayer is that the Thirtieth Anniversary celebrations in Kyoto will be a time of re-commitment to the noble goals of the World Conference on Religion and Peace. God bless your efforts!
From the Vatican, November 1, 2000
1. I am pleased to receive you, dear "Romanisti" friends - managers, athletes and supporters - who form the Roma Sports Association. I greet you with affection and I congratulate you on your decision to celebrate the Jubilee together as one big family.
I extend a special greeting to Dr Francesco Sensi, President of your association, who organized this spiritual initiative, and I thank him for his kind words expressing the sentiments you share.
Your association wanted to take the name "Roma", to be identified in a way with the rich and glorious history of our city. You know that it is a history especially of holiness: the martyrdom of Peter and Paul was followed by that of many other witnesses; down the centuries numerous saints were also born or lived in Rome. Rome, moreover, as the See of Peter's Successor, "presides in charity" (St Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Rm 1,1).
The fact that your association is named Roma means that you, dear "Romanisti", have a special duty to live the Christian faith coherently; it is an invitation to bear daily witness to Gospel love in your surroundings. We could say that the Lord is telling you, as he does every believer living in Rome, what he said to St Paul: "You must bear witness [to me] also at Rome" (Ac 23,11).
2. You are asked to bear this faithful witness especially in sport, which has become one of the characteristic phenomena of our time. Sport concerns and involves vast crowds, especially through the communications media, thus becoming a worldwide event in which different nations and cultures find themselves joined in one festive experience. It is precisely for this reason that sport can promote the building of a more fraternal and united world, thus helping to overcome situations of reciprocal misunderstanding between individuals and peoples.
If played as they should be, sports become a kind of ascesis, an ideal context for practising many virtues. Some of these virtues were clearly stressed by my venerable Predecessor, Pope Pius XII: "Fair play, which forbids resorting to subterfuges, docility and obedience to the wise directions of whoever is guiding the team exercise, a spirit of self-denial when it is necessary to stay on the sidelines for the good of one's "colours', fidelity to one's commitments, modesty in triumphs, generosity towards the defeated, serenity in misfortune, patience with a not always fair audience, justice, if competitive sport is linked to freely negotiated financial interests, and, in general, chastity and temperance already recommended by the ancients themselves" (Address to the Italian Sports Centre, 5 October 1955).
Sport, however, becomes an alienating phenomenon when the performance of skill and physical strength results in idolatry of the body; when exaggerated competition leads to regarding one's opponent as an enemy to be humiliated; when the enthusiasm of fans prevents an objective evaluation of the person and events and, above all, when it degenerates into violence. A predominating commercial interest, moreover, can turn sports into a mere search for profit.
Another aspect not to be overlooked is that, due to the way sporting events are currently organized, the proper sanctification of Sunday is sometimes not easy for the faithful, while for families it becomes more difficult to spend moments of beneficial relaxation together.
3. As for football, this is an activity that can be enjoyed by everyone, from children to adults. Because of its ability to bring people together, it offers appreciated entertainment in a general atmosphere of festivity. Due to its popular nature, football is able to express many expectations and to offer healthy recreation to individual enthusiasts and to entire families.
Sometimes, however, it becomes an occasion for clashes with disturbing episodes of intolerance and aggressiveness, and leads to serious displays of violence. How important it is, then, to remember the proper respect for the ethics of sport! How pressing is the responsibility of managers, athletes, reporters and fans! I am thinking especially of the responsibility that athletes have towards their spectators, especially young people, who look at them as models to imitate. By their example they can communicate a message of high human and spiritual value. Misconduct, on the other hand, causes damaging effects that, unfortunately, are amplified with an unforeseeable negative impact. We must always be aware of this.
4. Friends of the Roma Sports Association! May your Jubilee help you to understand, through the metaphor of sport, the demands of the spiritual life. Life, St Paul reminds us, is like a race in the stadium, where everyone participates. But while in a race there is only one winner, in the race of life all can and must be victorious. And to do so we must be moderate in all things, keep our eyes on the goal, realize the sacrifice and continually train in avoiding evil and doing good. In this way, with the help of God, we will victoriously reach the heavenly goal.
May Mary, whom you invoke in the chapel of your sports centre as Salus Populi Romani, assist you in this match that lasts a lifetime; may she protect you, your families and all the "Romanisti". For my part, I bless each of you and all who have joined you for this Jubilee celebration.
To His Holiness Bartholomew I
Archbishop of Constantinople Ecumenical Patriarch
"May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord" (2P 1,2).
With these words expressing the hope of salvation, St Peter addresses the Christians of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia and Asia Minor, "those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2P 1,1).
With these same words I greet you, Your Holiness, the members of the Holy Synod and the Ecumenical Patriarchate on this happy occasion of the feast of St Andrew, the first called, the brother of Peter, the protocoryphaeus, as the liturgy sings. The delegation led by my esteemed Brother, Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, whom I have asked to represent me on the occasion of this celebration, will bring you the fraternal sentiments of the Bishop of Rome and the Catholic Church.
Our common veneration of the holy Apostles and the prayer we offer to Christ through their intercession remind us of the grace we have received of being rooted in the one apostolic succession and the one mission of passing on to future generations and to the world the salvation brought by the one Mediator, Jesus Christ. Like the Apostle Andrew when he met Jesus for the first time, we would like to proclaim together: "We have found the Messiah" (Jn 1,41) .
Our common mission obliges us to embrace the cause of restoring the full unity of faith and life. Indeed, as I stressed in the Encyclical Ut unum sint, "it is obvious that the lack of unity among Christians contradicts the Truth which Christians have the mission to spread and, consequently, it gravely damages their witness" (n. 98). Pope Paul VI remarked just 25 years ago that "the division among Christians is a serious reality which impedes the very work of Christ" (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi EN 77).
This Jubilee year, in which we are celebrating the 2,000th anniversary of the Incarnation of the Word of God, has allowed us to bear common witness to our faith. I am grateful to Your Holiness for sending your delegations to Rome. They joined us and those of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities in proclaiming that Christ is our only Lord and Saviour.
In this year 2000, after a long suspension of its work, the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches was able to meet in Baltimore for its eighth plenary session. Such a meeting is in itself an important event, which was an occasion to emphasize the complexity of the issues being studied; to our deep regret, however, we must note that it did not allow us to make any real progress in our dialogue. For this reason the commission appropriately drew attention to the need to continue the dialogue and to seek more suitable ways to explain and examine the questions under discussion.
As for the Catholic Church, I can assure Your Holiness that I am determined to continue the dialogue of truth and charity. This is why I appeal to the Catholic and Orthodox faithful to intensify and strengthen their fraternal relations wherever they live, with concern for mutual and trusting respect. This is the only way that, with God's grace, minds can be healed of any reticence and hearts be enlarged to correspond fully with the divine will for unity, by eliminating the real difficulties that remain or those that can emerge at the level of the local Churches. This desire and orientation have been expressed to the particular Catholic Churches so that they will be firmly committed in this direction. We must encourage close and disinterested collaboration between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, avoiding any acts or gestures which might constitute forms of pressure or merely give that impression, and being, as the Apostle Paul urged the Corinthians, "servants of God", "through forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love" (2Co 6,4), with the concern to be artisans of peace and reconciliation.
With a pure and free heart, then, to obey the will of the one Lord, we must continue our sincere, fraternal and loving quest for full communion. It is in this perspective that I am pleased to have been able to make available to the Ecumenical Patriarchate the ancient and beautiful Roman Church of St Theodore on the Palatine, so that it can be used for the worship and pastoral activities of the city's Greek Orthodox community, who will thus be provided with the necessary spiritual assistance for their growth and for dialogue with all the Christians living in Rome.
At the end of this Message, I would like to assure you, dear and venerable Brother, that I personally and the whole Catholic Church are faithfully asking the Lord to grant us his light and strength so that we can deeply understand his prayer: "That they may all be one ... so that the world may believe" (Jn 17,21), and thus make our own contribution to its full realization.
As the Church of Constantinople celebrates her holy patron, I pray the Apostle Andrew to help us walk on the path of unity and to pursue our relations marked by sensitivity and forgiveness, so that we can proclaim together that Christ is our Saviour and the Saviour of the human race. With these sentiments, I assure Your Holiness, the Bishops and the faithful of your Patriarchate of my profound brotherly love.
From the Vatican, 25 November 2000.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate
of the Catholic Church of the Byzantine-Ukrainian rite!
1. I am very pleased to receive and welcome you. I send a special greeting to Cardinal Myroslav Ivan Lubachivsky, Major Archbishop of Lviv for Ukrainians.
Through you I also greet the Ukrainian faithful of all the Christian Churches in the country. My greeting is extended as well to Ukrainians living abroad, who keep alive the religious traditions of their homeland.
2. You have come to Rome from Ukraine and the countries of the diaspora to celebrate the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.
I remember with deep feeling that day 10 years ago when, after almost half a century, your Ukrainian Bishops, confessors of the faith, met the Ukrainian prelates of the diaspora. It was a symbol more powerful than any word.
On that occasion we thanked the Lord because the Millennium of the Baptism of your people, celebrated in 1988, inaugurated a new era bringing important social and moral changes for you that involved recognition of the right to religious freedom for Eastern-rite Catholics and their Church, which has been in union with the See of Peter for 400 years.
In this way, the community of the People of God, which had been out-lawed in 1946, emerged from the catacombs. Your Church, by faithfully following Christ her Bridegroom, knew suffering and the cross when the cruel atheist regime decreed her suppression.
3. But now you must look ahead: God's grace spurs us to use our time well, because it is the time of salvation. The commitment to building the Church is incumbent on us and fills us with enthusiasm. The first task is yours, Bishops of the Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. This is a structure of great value and responsibility: like the Apostles, you are called to care for the whole Church; the experience of your individual Eparchies must be joined in a common plan, a global project. I am sure that these years are an important lesson for you: they teach you to work together, to bear one another's burdens, to feel that you are all jointly responsible for leading your communities. Thirst for God is increasing; people are in a hurry to be led on Christ's path. I am sure that you are intensely aware of this commitment to living, planning and achieving together. Your common commitment is also a common responsibility: the Church is entrusted to your hands, and much is expected of you.
4. We are emerging from the painful experience of the catacombs. It is natural that our first efforts to recover should be influenced by the needs of the moment and therefore may show a certain lack of coordination. Today, however, we must overcome this first phase of reorganization and work to create a pastoral plan for your Church, priorities and the means and times for their implementation.
5. It will take into account the primary requirement of catechesis and theological formation in line with your Eastern ecclesial tradition. I know that high quality educational institutions are already working to this end. The proclamation of the Gospel must be the basis of every ecclesial project: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!", the Apostle reminds us.
6. In this plan we must not forget the active role of lay people who have received a good spiritual and cultural formation and share the responsibility for the Church.
7. Religious will have a particularly important task: monasticism first of all, which gives the Church the ever vital sense and strength of her roots and finds in prayer the certainty of the "one thing necessary". I hope that it will grow and be structured in accordance with the glorious traditions of the Christian East. Religious communities dedicated to the apostolate are also called to play a fundamental role in this pastoral plan, striving to proclaim the Word of God and to guarantee a loving presence which will also serve as a means of evangelization among those whose hearts and souls have been marked by atheism: by encountering the transparent, loving acts and the strong but gentle words of brothers and sisters who radically live their baptismal commitment, they will be touched by grace, while the eyes of their hearts will learn to see what is invisible yet very real: the mystery of God's love at work in history. In post-communist society, God's love must permeate the theological and catechetical study and pastoral commitment of the faithful. You Bishops will be the first witnesses of this. I am sure that the Latin religious institutes will not fail to cooperate in the work of evangelization and in charitable activity. Only in this way can a unanimous and credible witness be given to that happy complementarity which the Lord has instilled in his Church.
8. In your pastoral plan for the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine, priority must be given to that spirit of peace and Christian brotherhood which would distinguish every believer in Jesus Christ. As was the common heritage of 10 centuries and the inspiration of your Bishops who wanted the union with Rome, you are called to experience a burst of growth and generosity that will also be at the service of your Orthodox brothers and sisters, so that the full communion which Jesus Christ desires will be restored; with their Pastors you will seek new ways of bearing common witness and will avoid sterile contradictions, well aware that the Father calls us all to charity, so that the world may believe. This is the spirit that will guide your steps and indicate new, unknown ways for the leaven of charity and for mutual readiness to help your people's growth.
I fervently hope that the Lord will soon allow me to visit you on Ukrainian soil, in order to proclaim with all Christians our common desire to find in Christ the answer to human anxieties and the one true light that never sets. I await that day as a true spiritual gift.
As I wait to be able to do so in person, please convey the Pope's tender and concerned Blessing to your faithful.
Dear Rectors and Superiors,
Dear Students of the Pontifical Spanish College of St Joseph in Rome,
1. I am pleased to greet you cordially at this meeting which you desired in order to reaffirm your affection and fidelity to the Successor of Peter. In this way you are also putting special emphasis on the celebration of the fifth centenary of the birth of St John of Avila, patron of Spanish secular clergy, while joining in the initiatives of your country's Episcopate to promote a significant renewal of priests during this year of the Great Jubilee. I am grateful for the kind words of your rector, Fr Lope Rubio Parrado, who expressed your sentiments and hopes of serving the Church faithfully as she faces the challenges of the new evangelization.
Your presence reminds me of my two visits to the present-day home of the Spanish College in Rome and, in particular, allows me to feel the closeness of your Dioceses and places of origin, as well as the enthusiasm and welcome of your people, whom I have had the opportunity to visit during my unforgettable pastoral journeys to Spain. When you have the occasion, please give them all my greetings and affection.
2. The Spanish College welcomes each of you, sent by your Bishop to enrich your local Church with a broader academic training and a more universal experience of the Church.
Both these aspects are supremely important for today's priest, who is called to proclaim the Gospel in contexts which are more and more varied, changing and, at the same time, closely connected to one another. A deep intellectual understanding of the Christian message enables him properly to adapt to the various situations, just as an intense experience of the Church's mystery makes possible an evangelization which originates in and aims at full communion in the Gospel of Christ, faithfully transmitted by the Apostles in full communion with Peter, who received the task of strengthening his brethren in faith (cf. Lk Lc 22,32).
In this regard, your stay in Rome gives you the opportunity to become acquainted with the riches of other ecclesial realities, to associate with priests from various Dioceses, and thus to cultivate a spirit open to broader and more universal horizons. For this reason the Spanish College helps "to preserve the unity of efforts in a climate of apostolic collaboration and to promote the multifaceted life of the People of God, by acting as a principle of unity and harmony amid the diversity of opinions and situations" (Paul VI, Address to the Spanish College, 13 November 1965).
Also keep in mind the principle of unity, as you live in this Church of Rome where, as St Irenaeus said, "those who meet in every place have preserved the apostolic Tradition" (Adv. Haer., III, 3, 2). Moreover, closeness to the memory of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul and the first martyrs is doubtless a source of evangelizing vigour and ecclesial vitality, because it allows you to see more clearly the close link between any project or pastoral action, however remote the place where it is carried out, and the very origins of the Church's mission.
3. In Spain the Holy Spirit continues to inspire many initiatives to strengthen your people's faith and give splendour to their expressions of it, even when no lack of difficulties impede a greater flourishing of the Gospel in your land. With your academic training and the experience of the years spent in Rome, you will be able to give new energy to the efforts of your many countrymen and fellow citizens, so that in Spanish society a worldly spirit will not prevail over God's Word.
The ever timely example of St John of Avila will help you in this task. He summed up his programme in a simple piece of advice: "pray, meditate, study" (Letter, 2, 285, to Friar Alfonso de Vergara). Indeed, meditation and an intense spiritual life make it possible to transmit with conviction Christ's mystery, which fills the priest's life and is so necessary to a generation that often suffers from an emptiness of life and lack of meaning. Study, in turn, encourages a correct understanding of doctrine and thereby the ability to teach it correctly in every concrete situation.
This is the programme he faithfully followed, while bearing the witness of a holy life and leaving many writings filled with sound doctrine and eloquent preaching. Both continue to be timely, and the fact that a new edition has recently made them more accessible to all is a great satisfaction. I invite you to imitate the example of your patron saint, his constant enthusiasm to bring Christ to others, his concern for the well-being of his fellow priests, his special sensitivity to new situations and his unyielding fidelity to the Church.
4. May the Blessed Virgin, who is venerated in your college as the Mother of Clemency and has accompanied all the students for over 100 years, sustain your good intentions. May she and your blessed founder, Manuel Domingo y Sol, obtain the necessary graces for you to imitate Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest. As a pledge of these fervent hopes, I am pleased to give you my Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly extend to the Community of the Servants of St Joseph and to the college's staff and other assistants.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate!
1. This year again, during the usual meetings which every year bring together the Bishops who are friends of the Focolare Movement, you have wished to pause at the Apostle's tomb, to pass through the Holy Door together and to meet the Successor of Peter. I thank you for this visit, for your affection and for your spiritual closeness. I offer each of you a cordial welcome!
I first greet Cardinal Miloslav Vlk and express to him my deep gratitude for the courteous words he has spoken to me on behalf of you all. In addressing him, I would like to offer to each of you and to your respective communities my appreciation and encouragement for your persevering work of promoting unity among all believers in Christ. During this Holy Year, the intense desire to obey the Lord's command that "all may be one" (Jn 17,11) has been, in a special way, the heart of the Jubilee spirit. I am pleased that you have been able to reflect and pray together for this great goal to which the Catholic Church has repeatedly affirmed her irrevocable commitment. For the ecumenical way is the Church's way.
2. "Ut unum sint!". Christ's ardent longing constantly echoes in the hearts of all those he has chosen as his disciples and sent out into the world to bear witness to his Gospel. You have wished to reflect on this burning desire over these days. The theme for your meeting this year has been: "The cry of the abandoned Christ: light on the path to full communion among the Churches". You have meditated on the anguish Christ felt in Gethsemane, when he experienced loneliness and abandonment in fulfilling the mission that the Father had entrusted to him. His total and trusting self-offering has become the measure of our action, since "the longing for unity goes hand in hand with a profound ability to "sacrifice'" (Homily for the Opening of the Holy Door at St Paul-Outside-the-Walls, 18 January 2000).
The ecumenical path thus finds its decisive model in the ultimate sacrifice of the Son of God, who for love of his brethren took upon himself every division, conquering in himself the sin of disunity among his own. How can we not see the urgent need for such a love in order to make ecumenical activity fruitful? How can we fail to follow in the depths of our hearts the example of Jesus, who "having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end" (Jn 13,1), going so far as to wash his disciples' feet?
3. In wishing to do the Father's work, Christ, our peace, wants to reconcile everyone with God in himself by means of his Cross, destroying hostility in his own body (cf. Eph Ep 2,16). We, the witnesses of his redemptive sacrifice, are called to become ever more profoundly his instruments and ministers of unity and sanctification. Above all through prayer, because reconciliation and the healing of divisions in the Church are a gift from above. It is the Spirit, in fact, who gathers God's children from every corner of the earth so that, through Christ, they may offer perfect praise to the Father with one heart. We must pray insistently for this Spirit, so that we may be gathered into one flock under one Shepherd, Christ.
However, prayer must be joined to a constant and sincere will to convert our hearts each day to the Gospel. The more we are able to think and act according to Christ's heart, the better we will know how to be faithful to his command. Unity is also a patient and far-sighted achievement of faith and love. It is necessary to let the Lord, who is the physician of souls, heal us inwardly from all selfishness.
4. Venerable and dear Brothers, passing through the Holy Door is a gift and admonition for everyone. It calls to mind the need to reread the complex and sometimes troubled history of our communities in the perspective of the one Church of Christ, where legitimate differences help to make the face of the Bride of the great King more radiant. This passage is an act of love, trust and repentance, so that the Lord's healing grace may relieve the sufferings caused by division and restore understanding to minds and hearts.
I am confident that the journey of reflection and prayer that you have made in these days will encourage you to return to your communities even more determined to bear witness by your words and lives to Christ's urgent prayer "that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us" (cf. Jn Jn 17,21).
This is also my prayer, which I entrust to Mary, the Immaculate Virgin. As I invoke abundant divine graces upon you and your loved ones, I cordially bless you all, along with the communities entrusted to your pastoral care.
Saturday, 2 December 2000
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. During your Jubilee pilgrimage you wished to show your affection and your spiritual closeness to the Successor of Peter. Thank you, dear friends, for this sign of communion. I extend my cordial welcome to each of you who have come from various places.
I first greet Bishop Salvatore Boccaccio of Frosinone-Veroli-Ferentino, and the large group of pilgrims led by him. I thank him for the kind words with which he wished to remember the reasons for this diocesan pilgrimage. Together with him I greet the entire diocesan community: the priests, men and women religious, seminarians, young people, the laity involved in the apostolate and the representatives of the various municipalities that form the civil structure of the diocesan territory. I ask you, dear faithful from the Ciociaria, to bring my greeting to those who were unable to be present today.
In your Diocese you have prepared a five-year plan for the formation of priests, consecrated persons and the laity, in order to initiate a "pastoral conversion" that will educate everyone in a renewed commitment to their parishes. The pastoral letter of your Bishop has just been published today, encouraging you to implement a united evangelization to involve every section of the ecclesial community. In welcoming the Gospel into his life, a Christian cannot fail to do everything in his power to accomplish the Lord's plan in his surroundings: once evangelized, he evangelizes others. If he opens his heart to Christ, he will know how to be the living sign of his love for others.
2. As a renewed proclamation of the newness of life in Christ, the new evangelization intends to help everyone to understand that God's law is a law of freedom and joy for total personal fulfilment. Everyone, from priests to catechists, from parents to children, from consecrated persons to married people, is responsible for reproposing to the world the ever timely message of Christ, who died and rose again for us. This proclamation must resound with deep ardour through an evangelization that is open to everyone and is new in its method and presentation.
Dear brothers and sisters, the Lord calls you to this difficult but exalting mission. He does not abandon you. Through the grace of frequently received sacraments, intense personal prayer and heartfelt adherence to the Magisterium, you can grow spiritually and your Ecclesial Community will advance in fidelity to its Lord. Continue on this path, in full unity among yourselves and in close communion with your zealous Pastor.
3. A cordial greeting goes to you, dear members of the Circolo San Pietro and the Sts Peter and Paul Association. You wanted jointly to celebrate your Jubilee with your co-workers and relatives. I wish to express my sincere gratitude to your chaplains, dear Archbishop Ettore Cunial and Mons. Franco Follo. I urge each of you to continue the praiseworthy work carried out by your respective associations. For my part, I am grateful for your constant and silent service to me personally and to my universal Petrine ministry.
Today's meeting offers me the opportunity to say again that your two associations have an important mission to carry out in the Church: a mission of total fidelity to the Gospel and of generous service to your brothers and sisters in need. May these two aspects - personal conversion to Christ and service to one's neighbour - always be present in your activity. May you be apostles of the Gospel in your families and, thanks also to a programme of ongoing ascetical and pastoral formation, may you grow in awareness of your vocation. May the Lord make you ever more attentive listeners to his saving word, so that it may become the daily bread of your spiritual and missionary growth.
4. I am now particularly pleased to address a cordial welcome to each of you, distinguished members of the "Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice" Foundation, who have gathered here with your families. Today's meeting is happily being held during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, which for you too marks a special occasion of grace and a valuable encouragement to renew your generous commitment to the service of the social Magisterium and the charity of the Supreme Pontiff. I greet Archbishop Agostino Cacciavillan, President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, and I sincerely thank him for his kind words expressing the devotion for the Pope that characterizes the members of this foundation. Also present at this meeting is Cardinal Francis Arinze, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, whom I greet with affection. In addition, I greet Archbishop Claudio Celli, Secretary of APSA, your national assistants and all the clergy present, who share in the commitment and hopes of this worthy association.
At the end of a year rich in extraordinary events for the life of the Church and the world, I wish to express my appreciation of the contribution made by your foundation to a deeper understanding of the Church's Magisterium in the service of justice and peace. As Archbishop Agostino Cacciavillan recalled, this contribution was highlighted first of all during the celebration of the foundation's Jubilee on 27 February last and by the significant participation in the Jubilee for the World of Work, which took place on 1 May at Tor Vergata. You prepared for that Jubilee by organizing an important international convention on "Ethics and Finance", whose final document you wished to present to me today. This represents your contribution to identifying just and feasible ways to give practical expression to the primacy of the human person and the common good in the financial and administrative field.
While I hope that your foundation will offer ever more skilled support to the mission of evangelization and human development of the Church and of the Apostolic See, I entrust your every intention and activity to the protection of the One who gave birth in the flesh to the Son of the eternal Father and who, at the foot of the cross, was given to us as our Mother.
5. My thoughts turn now to the educational community of the minor seminary of Altamura-Gravina-Acquaviva delle Fonti, to the teachers, professors, students and relatives who are accompanying them. Dear friends, may this be a helpful occasion for entrusting your projects to the Lord. The Church expects much from you. Take care to cultivate a lifestyle that is always in keeping with the Gospel, joyful in faith and ready to serve others. Prepare to bear eloquent witness among all to an obedient love for the divine Master, who guides everyone on the paths of peace and joy.
6. I now turn affectionately to you, members of the National Association of Professional Scuba-Divers, who came to visit me on the occasion of your Jubilee. Thank you for your presence. I was very touched by the symbolic gesture that you intend making on this occasion. As a testimony to the celebration of your Jubilee, you have asked me to bless a statue portraying Christ of the Depths. You will submerge this image of the Redeemer in the waters of Giglio Island in memory of the deceased members of your brave profession. May the Lord always protect you and grant you the necessary graces for your life.
7. I cordially greet the pilgrims from Billancourt in France, who have come to celebrate the Jubilee. Dear friends, may you be able to strengthen your faith and to live your Christian mission with renewed spirit! With my Apostolic Blessing!
I cordially greet the group of Croatian Jesuits. Dear friends, may this pilgrimage to the tombs of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 further encourage your service in the cause of the Gospel. May you be accompanied in this effort by my Apostolic Blessing. Praised be Jesus and Mary!
8. Lastly, I greet the large group of lawyers from Bari. Thank you, dear friends, for your visit. May the Lord assist you in your difficult mission of serving justice and the common good. I also greet the Union of Small Landowners, the members of the Chianti League, the participants in the seminar offered by the General Management of the Anti-Drug Services; the employees and partners of the Bank of Salerno, the Chamber of Commerce of Milano-UnionCamere, the employees of the University of Messina, the Italian Association of Hotel Employees, the Fogolars Furlans of Switzerland, as well as the pilgrims from numerous Italian parishes who have gathered here.
I hope, dear brothers and sisters, that you will spend this time of grace by drawing abundantly from the love of God, who sustains believers in their efforts to bear a consistent Christian witness wherever they work. On this First Saturday of December, I entrust everyone here to the protection of Mary, as I cordially bless you all.
Speeches 2000 - Monday, 27 November 2000