Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I cordially thank each one of you for the good wishes which your Dean, Ambassador Giovanni Galassi, has so thoughtfully expressed and presented on behalf of all of you. I extend heartfelt good wishes to each one of you. May God bless you and your countries, and may he grant everyone a prosperous and happy New Year.
But a question comes immediately to mind: what is a happy year for a diplomat? The world scene in this month of January 2001 could cause one to doubt the capacity of diplomacy to bring about the rule of order, equity and peace among peoples.
However, we should not resign ourselves to the inevitability of sickness, poverty, injustice or war. It is certain that without social solidarity or recourse to law and the instruments of diplomacy, these terrible situations would be even more dramatic and could become insoluble. I therefore wish to thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen, for your activity and persevering efforts to promote understanding and cooperation among peoples.
2. The inspiration of the Holy Year which has just ended, and of the different Jubilee events which brought together and motivated men and women of every race, age and condition, showed, if there was a need, that the moral conscience is still very much alive and that God dwells in the human heart. In your presence I shall content myself with recalling the Jubilee of Members of Government, Parliamentarians and Politicians which took place at the beginning of November. It was for me a source of great spiritual consolation to see so much good will and so much openness to God's grace. Once again it was possible to see the correctness of what the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council's Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes magnificently proclaims: "The Church believes that Christ, who died and was raised up for all, through his Spirit offers man the light and the strength to respond to his supreme calling. Nor has any other name under heaven been given to man by which he should be saved. She likewise holds that in her Lord and Master can be found the key, the focal point, and the goal of all human history" (No. 10).
3. Following the shepherds and the wise men and all those who for the past two thousand years have hastened to the crib, today's humanity too has paused for a few moments on Christmas Day to gaze upon the Infant Jesus and to receive some of the light which accompanied his birth and continues to illumine all human darkness. This light tells us that the love of God is always stronger than evil and death.
This light signals the path of all who in our times in Bethlehem and Jerusalem are struggling on the road to peace. In this part of the world which received God's revelation to man there should be no resignation before the fact that a kind of guerilla warfare has become an everyday event, or in the face of the persistence of injustice, the contempt for international law or the marginalization of the Holy Places and the requirements of the Christian communities. Israelis and Palestinians can only think of their future together, and each party must respect the rights and traditions of the other. It is time to return to the principles of international legality: the banning of the acquisition of territory by force, the right of peoples to self-determination, respect for the resolutions of the United Nations Organization and the Geneva conventions, to quote only the most important. Otherwise, anything can happen: from unilateral rash initiatives to an extension of violence which will be difficult to control.
This same light is shed upon all the other regions of the planet where people have chosen armed violence in order to exact their rights or further their ambitions. I am thinking of Africa, a continent where too many weapons are circulating and where too many countries suffer from unstable democracy and devastating corruption, where the drama of Algeria and the war in southern Sudan are still mercilessly slaughtering people; nor can we forget the chaos into which the countries of the Great Lakes region have been plunged. That is why the peace agreement arrived at last month in Algiers between Ethiopia and Eritrea is a cause for satisfaction, as are the promising attempts to lead Somalia gradually back to normality. Nearer to us, I must mention and with such a sense of sadness! the murderous terrorist attacks in Spain, which sully the nation and humiliate the whole of Europe as it searches for its identity. Many people still look to Europe as a model from which to draw inspiration. May Europe never forget the Christian roots which have allowed its humanism to bear much fruit! May Europe also be generous towards those individuals and peoples who come knocking at its door!
4. The light of Bethlehem, shed upon "men and women of good will", also imposes upon us the duty of combatting always and everywhere poverty, marginalization, illiteracy, social inequalities or the shameful treatment of human beings. None of these is beyond redress, and it is pleasing to note that various international meetings and agencies have brought at least a partial remedy to these wounds which disfigure humanity. Egoism and the will to power are humanity's worst enemies. In some way, they are at the root of every conflict. This is especially evident in certain parts of South America, where socio-economic and cultural differences, armed violence or guerilla warfare, and the turning back of democratic gains damage the social fabric and cause entire populations to lose confidence in the future. This immense continent must be helped to bring all its human and material heritage to fruition.
Distrust, conflicts and the vestiges of past crises can always be overcome through good will and international solidarity. Asia has shown that this is so, with the dialogue between the two Koreas and with East Timor's progress towards independence.
5. Believers and especially Christians know that another approach is possible. I will formulate it in words which may seem too simple: every man is my brother! If we were convinced that we are called to live together, that it is wonderful to come to know one another, to respect and help one another, the world would be radically different.
When we think of the century just ended, one thing is clear: history will judge it to be the century which saw the greatest conquests of science and technology, but also as the time when human life was despised in the cruellest ways.
I am certainly referring to the murderous wars which burgeoned in Europe and to the forms of totalitarianism which enslaved millions of men and women, but I am also referring to laws which "legalized" abortion or euthanasia, and to cultural models which have spread the idea of consumption and pleasure at any price. If people upset the balance of creation, forgetting that they are responsible for their brothers and sisters, and do not care for the environment which the Creator has placed in their hands, then a world determined by our designs alone could well become unliveable.
6. As I recalled in my World Day of Peace Message on 1 January, we should all use this year 2001, which the United Nations Organization has declared the "International Year of Dialogue between Civilizations", as a time "for building the civilization of love... based upon the recognition that there are values which are common to all cultures because they are rooted in the nature of the person" (No. 16).
But what do we have more deeply in common than our human nature? Yes, at the dawn of this millennium, let us save man! Let us together, all of us, save humanity! It is up to the leaders of societies to safeguard the human race, ensuring that science is at the service of the human person, that people are never objects to be manipulated or to be bought and sold, that laws are never determined by commercial interests or by the selfish claims of minority groups. Every age of human history has seen humanity tempted to inhabit a self-enclosed world in an attitude of self-sufficiency, domination, power and pride. But in our own time this danger has become still greater in man's heart, as people believe that through the efforts of science they can become the masters of nature and of history.
7. It will always be the task of believing communities to state publicly that no authority, no political programme and no ideology is entitled to reduce human beings to what they can do or produce. It will always be the imperative duty of believers to remind everyone in all situations of the inalienable personal mystery of every human being, created in the image of God, able to love as Jesus did.
Here I would like to say to you once more and, through you, to say once more to the governments which have accredited you to the Holy See, that the Catholic Church is determined to defend the dignity, the rights and the transcendent dimension of the human person. Even if some are reluctant to refer to the religious dimension of human beings and human history, even if others want to consign religion to the private sphere, even if believing communities are persecuted, Christians will still proclaim that religious experience is part of human experience. It is a vital element in shaping the person and the society to which people belong. This is why the Holy See has always been vigorous in defending freedom of conscience and religious liberty, at both the individual and social level. The tragic experience of the Christian community in Indonesia or the blatant discrimination suffered by believing communities, both Christian and non-Christian, in some countries under Marxist or Islamic control summon us to vigilance and unfailing solidarity.
8. These are the reflections prompted by this traditional meeting which enables me in some way to address all the peoples of the earth through their best qualified representatives. I ask that you communicate to all your fellow countrymen and to your national governments the prayerful good wishes of the Pope. Through this history of which we are the protagonists, let us chart the course of the millennium now beginning. Together, let us help one another to live a life worthy of the vocation that is ours, the vocation of forming a great family, happy in the knowledge that it is loved by a God who wants us to be brothers and sisters! May Almighty God bless you and those who are dear to you!
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Students of the "Almo Collegio Capranica",
1. I am pleased to welcome you at this special audience, which has become a welcome custom, shortly before the liturgical memorial of St Agnes, your special patroness. I offer my gratitude to Cardinal Camillo Ruini, President of the Episcopal Commission which oversees the college, for his words expressing the sentiments of everyone present. I extend my cordial greeting to the Bishops of the Commission, to the rector, Mons. Michele Pennisi, to the superiors and to you, dear seminarians of the Capranica community. It is entitled to be listed among the most ancient and illustrious institutions dedicated to the spiritual and theological formation of priests for the Diocese of Rome, and is open to serving Dioceses in Italy and other countries.
This year your visit has particular significance, because it is taking place shortly after the close of the Jubilee, which has left to the entire Christian community a great legacy to be accepted and brought to maturity, in order to guide its steps in the new millennium.
2. In my Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, I have described the essential features of this precious legacy and presented them for the reflection of all believers as we pass from one century and millennium to another. I signed the document in the presence of the Ecclesial Community during the solemn liturgical celebration at the end of the Jubilee. Today I would like to suggest that you examine this Letter, and I invite you to make it the object of your reflection, to draw from it inspiration for your personal and community journey. I would especially urge you to reflect on what I consider the essential core of the Jubilee legacy: the commitment to set out anew from Christ. Is not contemplation of Christ's face the heart of all the human, cultural and spiritual formation to which you are devoting yourselves as candidates for the ordained ministry?
Precisely because you are called to follow the Master more closely, you are invited to "contemplate his face" more deeply (Novo millennio ineunte, NM 16). You, in turn, will then be witnesses and guides for the men and women of our time, enabling yourselves to lead them to the discovery of Christ's beauty and majesty.
"We wish to see Jesus" (Jn 12,21): the desire expressed by certain Greek pilgrims shortly before the Passover is also found in the hearts of many of our contemporaries. Like Philip and Andrew (cf. Jn Jn 12,22), you too must be able to lead them to a direct experience of the divine Master. This presupposes that you maintain a deep, habitual communion with him by constantly directing your activity and your whole life to the person of Christ. The more your gaze is set on his face, the better you will be able to follow faithfully in his footsteps. You will thus advance on the path of spirituality and will know the joy that belongs to genuine Gospel workers.
3. Set out anew from Christ! This is your programme in this first phase of the new millennium. The Risen One is continually present and mysteriously at work in the community of his disciples. His promise: "Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28,20), is a constant comfort.
Dear students, we are sustained in this effort by the example and intercession of a countless host of saints and martyrs who in 20 centuries of history remained faithful to Christ. How many of them have brought glory to our venerable Church of Rome! They include your special patroness, St Agnes, who is particularly dear to you, and who in virginity and martyrdom lived and witnessed to her own personal fidelity to Christ.
I entrust you to the heavenly intercession of this Roman martyr, so that you may deeply contemplate the face of Christ. May Mary, Mother of the Church, also protect you and obtain for each of you a year full of spiritual and cultural fruits. With these sentiments, I impart a special blessing to you, students, to your superiors and formation directors and to the entire Capranica community.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. This year I again have the pleasure of receiving you together for the traditional exchange of greetings at the beginning of the New Year. In this way the ties rooted in the history of two millennia linking Peter's Successor to Rome, to its Province and to the Lazio Region are strengthened and invigorated.
I extend a cordial greeting to the President of the Regional Board of Lazio, the Hon. Francesco Storace, to the Mayor of Rome, the Hon. Francesco Rutelli, and to the President of the Province of Rome, the Hon. Silvano Moffa. I am very grateful to them for their kind words to me on behalf of the administrations they head. With them, I also greet the presidents of the respective councils and all who are present.
2. Today's meeting takes place a few days after the close of the Great Jubilee: I feel the need to express my deepest gratitude to all of you and to the institutions you represent for your generous and professional contribution to the success of this Holy Year. It will remain in our memory, as well as in the history of the Church and of the human family, as a time of blessing and grace. We have been helped and encouraged, as believers, to live our relationship with Jesus Christ with renewed intensity. The Jubilee experience has also allowed us to strengthen and to practise that universal brotherhood which forms the sure basis of all genuine social and civil progress. The City, the Province of Rome and the Lazio Region certainly emerge from the Jubilee enriched by a fruitful cooperation, in which religious and secular institutions worked actively together to welcome pilgrims and visitors from every corner of the earth.
I cannot forget, in this regard, the support you gave to important Jubilee events, particularly World Youth Day. Your efforts to make Rome and Lazio as welcoming and hospitable as possible and to accompany the great availability and generosity of our communities with suitable measures and institutional projects have born excellent fruit and serve as an experience to be developed in the future. In this way, the Jubilee will not only continue to make its beneficial effects felt in the religious community, but in the civil as well.
3. All the good we received in the Holy Year calls us to face the tasks and responsibilities that now await us with fresh enthusiasm and confidence. In your office as public administrators, the sure and enlightening reference-point continues to be the persistent and concrete search for the common good, especially in the sectors that most directly affect the citizens' lives, the values that should motivate them, the obstacles and problems that make it difficult at times.
I feel it my duty to call your attention, first of all, to the great theme of the family and the fundamental role it plays in the growth and formation of the younger generation, as well as in the development of human relations marked by love and solidarity. The family should be the centre of social policies, and respect must be shown for its proper identity as a permanent union between man and woman based on marriage, which can never be made equivalent to any other form of relationship. I am pleased with the measures adopted by your administrations that benefit families by recognizing their "social subjectivity" and by meeting their greatest needs, with special concern for young families. It is also necessary to think of the elderly, ever more numerous in Rome and Lazio, especially regarding the loneliness that marks the lives of so many of them.
The ageing of the population shows the urgent need for a culture, a policy and a social organization that are truly pro-life. Proposals and measures, then, which benefit motherhood and the protection of life from conception to its natural end deserve sincere support: a fundamental challenge for our future is at stake here.
4. Next, issues concerning the education of children and young people deserve great effort. In this regard, do not be afraid to adopt courageous measures concerning the effective parity of schools and the most beneficial use of structures such as parish oratories, which make a great contribution to offering a sound formation and preventing worrying forms of juvenile hardship.
And what should we say about health care? In this area not only are the technical quality and timeliness of services important, but also human warmth and thoughtful concern for the sick and their relatives. Today, moreover, the health-care sector is expanding in conjunction with a number of conditions that can improve the quality of life. I thank God that in our city and region important measures are being taken to guarantee substantial progress in health-care capacities, with likely benefits for the inhabitants of other regions as well. Allow me to stress the need, in the rapid, continual evolution of health-care structures, never to compromise the opportunity for spiritual assistence to the sick as well as to all health-care personnel but, on the contrary, to respect it fully and preserve it. This is a particularly worthy contribution to the full humanization of medicine.
5. Then there are the many problems connected with strengthening the productive sector and developing the capacity for innovation on which economic security and employment largely depend. Certainly, the public administrations cannot resolve all this on their own. However, they are called to give indispensable encouragement and direction to these fields by ensuring, for their own part, the essential conditions for this development. I refer not only to the structural, technical and organizational aspects, but also to the formation of individuals: for we know that people are the primary and principal resource, even at the economic level.
One last point which I would like to mention is that of the citizens' safety. This need is felt by all and is particularly acute in certain urban and suburban areas. The adoption of effective measures in this sector too would greatly help to increase trust in institutions and a sense of common citizenship. It would also facilitate the acceptance and integration of the many immigrants who come to Rome and Lazio out of a desire for honest work and more acceptable living conditions.
6. Honourable Representatives of the Regional, Provincial and Municipal Administrations, I have been able to highlight with you certain topics of great interest for the good of our communities. As I thank you for your support of the Church's life and activities, I would like to assure you that in each of these areas the heartfelt and disinterested contribution of the Christian communities of Rome and Lazio will not be lacking.
I entrust to the Lord in prayer all your projects and good intentions, and I ask Blessed Mary to protect and accompany you and your work with her powerful intercession.
With these sentiments, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to each of you, to your families and to all who live in Rome, in its Province and in Lazio.
Dear Friends from Finland,
It is a special joy for me to welcome you to the Vatican so soon after the conclusion of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. During that special time of grace a great many people experienced a deep spiritual renewal. May the Lord grant us to begin this new millennium with our trust firmly rooted in the saving mystery of his death and resurrection.
I have vivid memories of the great ecumenical liturgies and gatherings which we celebrated during the Holy Year. Among them was the solemn inauguration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, with the opening of the Holy Door at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, where I welcomed with joy Bishop Ville Riekkinen from Kuopio, together with members of the Delegation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland present in Rome for the Feast of Saint Henrik. There was also the Commemoration of Witnesses to the Faith at the Colosseum, with the participation of distinguished representatives from all corners of the Christian world. Events such as these expressed our common faith in Jesus Christ, Lord of all times and of all peoples, "the same yesterday, today and for ever" (He 13,8).
I am pleased to know that, under the leadership of the Finnish Ecumenical Council, Christians in Finland celebrated the Great Jubilee together, with the theme "Millennium 2000 Year of Hope". During the year, the celebration of the seven hundredth anniversary of Turku Cathedral, attended by many ecumenical delegates, was an eloquent reminder of our common history. The Jubilee was also the occasion to ensure that issues of justice for the poor and marginalized become more central not only to Christians in Finland but to Finnish society as a whole; and this too was an area in which Christians in your land worked together effectively.
As we enter the Third Millennium, we are conscious of the need to commit ourselves ever more deeply to the task of restoring full and visible unity among all the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that the saving truth of the Gospel may be preached more effectively to the people of Europe today. May the Holy Spirit guide us as we renew our dedication to this task.
With happy memories of my visit to your beloved country eleven years ago, I invoke upon you and the people of Finland the abundant blessings of Almighty God, "to whom be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen" (Ap 1,6).
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Professors and Students of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music!
1. I am pleased to welcome you on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of your institute, founded in 1910 by my revered Predecessor St Pius X, with its seat at Palazzo Sant'Apollinare. I think back to the visit I paid you on 21 November 1984, and affectionately extend my cordial greeting to you all. I also greet the delegation from Catalonia. At the same time, I congratulate the dignitaries who have been awarded the doctorate "honoris causa" for their achievements in the field of sacred music.
I express my particular gratitude to Archbishop Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and your Grand Chancellor, for his courteous good wishes, also offered on your behalf. I would like to express again my esteem and my satisfaction with the work you all carry out with a sense of responsibility and valued professionalism.
On this occasion, as I glance at your activities to date and consider your future projects, I thank God for the work accomplished by the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music for the benefit of the universal Church. Indeed, music and song are not merely an ornament or embellishment added to the liturgy. On the contrary, they form one reality with the celebration and allow for a deepening and interiorization of the divine mysteries.
I therefore hope that all of you - teachers, students and lovers of sacred music - can grow day by day in the love of God, "singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart" (Ep 5,19) and helping others do the same.
2. This, in fact, is the specific mission which the Supreme Pontiffs entrusted to your praiseworthy institution from the beginning. I am thinking first of all of the Motu Proprio of St Pius X, who in 1903, with his liturgical sensitivity, emphasized that sacred music should be "an integral part of the solemn liturgy, sharing its overall purpose which is the glory of God and the sanctification and edification of the faithful" (Tra le sollecitudini, ASS 36 , p. 332). The most important result of this Instruction was the creation in 1910 of the Superior School of Sacred Music. Hardly a year later, St Pius X published his approval of the school in the Brief Expleverunt desiderii, and on 10 July 1914 honoured it with the title "Pontifical".
On 23 September 1914, a few days after his election to the papal throne, Pope Benedict XV said that he regarded the school as a beloved legacy left to him by his Predecessor and that he would support and promote it in the best way possible. We should also mention Pius XI's Motu Proprio Ad musicae sacrae, promulgated on 22 November 1922, in which the special connection between the school and the Apostolic See was reaffirmed.
With the Apostolic Constitution Deus scientiarum Dominus of 1931, the school, entitled "Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music", was included among the ecclesiastical academic institutes and as such continued its praiseworthy activity of service to the universal Church with even greater effort. After being trained here, many students later became teachers in their respective nations, in accordance with the original spirit desired by St Pius X.
Here I would like to honour the professors who have worked at your institute for many years and, particularly, its presidents who devoted themselves to it without reserve, with a special mention of Mons. Higini Anglθs, president from 1947 until his death on 8 December 1969.
3. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, continuing the rich liturgical tradition of previous centuries, said that sacred music "is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as a combination of sacred music and words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, SC 112).
Christians, following the various seasons of the liturgical year, have always expressed gratitude and praise to God in hymns and spiritual songs. Biblical tradition, through the words of the Psalmist, urges the pilgrims on arriving in Jerusalem to pass through the doors of the temple while praising the Lord "with trumpet sound, with timbrel and dance, with strings and pipe, with sounding cymbals!" (cf. Ps Ps 150). The prophet Isaiah, in turn, urges the singing with stringed instruments in the house of the Lord all the days of one's life as a sign of gratitude (cf. Is Is 38,20).
Christian joy expressed in song must mark every day of the week and ring out strongly on Sunday, the "Lord's Day", with a particularly joyful note. There is a close link between music and song, on the one hand, and between contemplation of the divine mysteries and prayer, on the other. The criterion that must inspire every composition and performance of songs and sacred music is the beauty that invites prayer. When song and music are signs of the Holy Spirit's presence and action, they encourage, in a certain way, communion with the Trinity. The liturgy then becomes an "opus Trinitatis". "Singing in the liturgy" must flow from "sentire cum Ecclesia". Only in this way do union with God and artistic ability blend in a happy synthesis in which the two elements - song and praise - pervade the entire liturgy.
4. Dear brothers and sisters, 90 years after its foundation your institute, in gratitude to the Lord for the good it has achieved, is intending to turn its gaze to the new horizons awaiting it. We have entered a new millennium and the Church is wholly committed to the work of the new evangelization. May your contribution not lack this far-reaching missionary activity. Rigorous academic study combined with constant atttention to the liturgy and pastoral ministry are required of each of you. You, teachers and students, are asked to make the most of your artistic gifts, maintaining and furthering the study and practice of music and song in the forms and with the instruments privileged by the Second Vatican Council: Gregorian chant, sacred polyphony and the organ. Only in this way will liturgical music worthily fulfil its function during the celebration of the sacraments and, especially, of Holy Mass.
May God help you faithfully to fulfil this mission at the service of the Gospel and the Ecclesial Community. May Mary, who sang the Magnificat, the canticle of true happiness to God, be your model. Down the centuries music has woven countless harmonies with the words of this canticle, and poets have developed it in an immense and moving repertoire of praise. May your voice also join theirs in magnifying the Lord and rejoicing in God our Saviour.
On my part, I assure you of a constant remembrance in prayer and, as I hope that the new year just begun will be full of grace, reconciliation and inner renewal, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. I welcome you with deep joy on the occasion of your interesting symposium which is being held 10 years after the publication of the Encyclical Redemptoris missio. I thank the organizers of this conference and greet everyone with affection. In particular, I greet and thank Cardinal Jozef Tomko for his kind words introducing our meeting.
This symposium at the dawn of the new millennium is meant to shed light on the primary value of evangelization in the life of the Ecclesial Community. The mission ad gentes, in fact, is the first task that Christ entrusted to his disciples. In this regard, the words of the divine Master sound particularly eloquent: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations ... and lo, I am with you ... until the close of the age" (Mt 28,18-20).
And the Church, ever mindful of the Lord's command, never ceases to care for her members, to re-evangelize those who have fallen away and to proclaim the Good News to those who do not yet know it. "Without the mission ad gentes", I wrote on this subject in the Encyclical we are commemorating today, "the Church's very missionary dimension would be deprived of its essential meaning and of the very activity that exemplifies it" (n. 34).
Bearing all this in mind, from the beginning of my Pontificate I invited every person and people to open the doors to Christ. This missionary concern has spurred me to make many apostolic journeys, to give an ever greater note of missionary openness to the entire activity of the Apostolic See and to foster constant doctrinal reflection on the apostolic task that belongs to every baptized person. The Encyclical Redemptoris missio, whose 10th anniversary we are celebrating, arose in this context.