Dear Brother Bishops,
1. It is with great affection in the Lord that I welcome you, the Bishops of Korea, on the occasion of your visit ad Limina Apostolorum. You have come once more on pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, to confess the apostolic faith and to pray for your own episcopal ministry and for the needs of Church in your country. In this meeting we celebrate together the bonds of truth and communion which unite your local Churches with the See of Peter. As you contemplate the witness given by the Apostles usque ad effusionem sanguinis, you are able to reflect on your ministry in the light of their teaching and example, and draw fresh inspiration for your work in the service of the Gospel and in the building up of Christ’s body, the Church.
My mind goes back to my two visits to your country, when I saw for myself how the Church has grown and flourished since the time when the Gospel seed was first sown there over two centuries ago. This year, in fact, you are commemorating the two hundredth anniversary of the first major wave of persecution in Korea, which led to the martyrdom of over three hundred of the faithful.
These holy men and women took to heart the words of the Apostle of the Nations: "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ" (Ph 3,8). Korea’s first native priest, Saint Andrew Kim Tae-gon, whom I had the joy of canonizing in 1984, urged the faithful to accept persecution since the Church in Korea could be no stranger to the sufferings of Christ and the Apostles. The sacrifice of your martyrs, willingly undergone for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ who had made them his own, as he had Saint Paul (cf. Phil Ph 3,12), has indeed borne a rich harvest, and we must pray that it will continue to be a source of pride, hope, strength and inspiration for all Christians throughout the peninsula.
2. Two important events form the background to your present ad Limina visit: the Special Assembly for Asia of the Synod of Bishops and the grace-filled experience of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. Some of you were present at that Assembly, which took place in April and May 1998 and was the occasion for a fruitful and enriching reflection on the challenges posed for evangelization in a continent where Christians form a very small minority. Inspired by the theme: Jesus Christ the Saviour and his Mission of Love and Service in Asia: "... that they may have life and have it abundantly" (Jn 10,10), the Synod examined ways "to illustrate and explain more fully the truth that Christ is the one Mediator between God and man and the sole Redeemer of the world" (Tertio Millennio Adveniente TMA 38). On the basis of the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia and following on the experience of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the task before you now is that of harvesting the fruits of these celebrations and laying solid foundations for a new springtime for Christianity in your own country and throughout the continent.
At the close of the "year of favor" which the Jubilee has been for the entire Church, in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte I offered some thoughts on how we might profit from its many blessings and put the graces received into practice in resolutions and guidelines for action (cf. No. 3). The success of all our initiatives will depend ultimately on their being founded on Christ himself, who continues to accompany the Church on her pilgrim journey "to the close of the age" (Mt 28,20). In a sense, the program to be implemented already exists: it is to be found in the Gospel and the Church’s living Tradition. It has its center in Christ himself "who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem" (Novo Millennio ineunte NM 29). Though it takes account of the circumstances of time and place for the sake of true dialogue and effective communication, this program does not change with shifts in prevailing attitudes. Yours is the responsibility of constantly identifying the features of a pastoral plan adapted to the needs and aspirations of God’s people, a plan which will enable all to hear ever more clearly the Good News of Christ and bring the truths and values of the Gospel to bear ever more incisively on the family, on culture, on society itself. The successors of the Apostles should never be afraid of proclaiming the full truth about Jesus Christ, in all its challenging reality and demands, since the truth has an intrinsic power to draw the human heart to all that is good, noble and beautiful.
3. In this regard I am especially pleased to learn of efforts to promote the Biblical apostolate. The availability of a modern Korean translation of the Bible, a project which you undertook for the Bicentenary of the arrival of the faith in your land, makes it possible for all the faithful to have direct access to God’s saving word. Specifically to be recommended is the ancient practice of lectio divina as a powerful tool of evangelization since this prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture brings us into contact with "the living word which questions, directs and shapes our lives" (Novo Millennio ineunte NM 39). In particular, young people should be introduced to the Scriptures – the "school of faith" – from an early age so as to discover the genuine figure of Jesus who loves them, answers their deepest longings, and calls them to follow him with a generous and undivided heart.
By the mandate of Christ, the Bishop is appointed to teach – "in season and out of season" (2Tm 4,2) – the unchanging faith of the Church, as it is to be applied and lived today. In his Diocese, the Bishop teaches the faith with the authority that comes from episcopal ordination and communion with the College of Bishops under its head (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 22). He teaches in a pastoral way, seeking to shed the light of the Gospel on today’s problems and helping the faithful to live fully Christian lives amid the challenges of contemporary society. In this regard, it is important for you to support and encourage the work of theologians as they reflect within the faith on ways of communicating the Christian message ever more effectively and appropriately in the local situation.
At the same time you must be concerned to safeguard the authentic interpretation of the Church’s teaching and thus ensure that the local Church abides in the truth which alone saves and liberates.Supernatural discernment is required in order to defend "the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within" (2Tm 1,14).
4. In your homeland you face the challenge of an increasingly materialistic mentality which is undermining many of the authentic human values upon which Korean society is traditionally based. This calls for renewed efforts to address the widely-felt crisis of values and to strengthen the sense of the transcendent in the lives of the faithful. Your recent initiatives to promote the Gospel of life though the setting up of a special subcommittee under your Conference’s Committee for the Doctrine of the Faith to deal with questions relating to bioethics is commendable, as is your steadfast opposition to abortion, not only because it is a terrible offence against God’s gift of life but also because it introduces into society a relativistic attitude to all fundamental moral and ethical principles.
In this as in many other areas of Church life the role of the lay faithful is indispensable. It is highly significant that the faith was brought to your homeland at the end of the eighteenth century by the persistent efforts of committed lay people. Among those who died in the 1801 persecution was Korea’s first woman catechist, Columba Kang Wan-suk, who fearlessly promoted the Gospel in Seoul and throughout the country before being executed with four companions who had been converted under her influence. Of the 103 martyrs canonized in 1984, mainly victims of the persecutions of 1839 and 1866, 92 were lay people. What better inspiration for the lay faithful of Korea in their generous commitment to evangelization, catechesis, the promotion of Catholic social doctrine and the work of charity than this witness and heritage! Yours is the task of discerning the gifts of the laity, of promoting among them a deeper awareness of the mission they share in the communion of the Church, and of encouraging them to put their talents to use for the renewal of society and the spreading of a culture based on respect for every human person.
5. Your closest collaborators in the work of evangelization are your priests, called upon at ordination to be true shepherds of the flock, preachers of the Gospel of salvation and worthy ministers of the sacraments. Korea is blessed with a high number of priestly vocations, with pastors whose lives are deeply marked by fidelity to Christ and generous dedication to their brothers and sisters. It is important that the faithful see their priests as men whose minds and hearts are set on the deep things of the Spirit (cf. Rom Rm 8,5), that they be men of prayer, committed to their priestly ministry and outstanding in moral uprightness. The new Pontifical Korean College here in Rome is a sign of your resolve to ensure that your priests receive a solid continuing formation, which will help them to bear convincing witness to Christ and to carry out the duties of their ministry with dedication and joy.
I encourage you to give particular attention to the formation of those who will teach in seminaries. Not only should they have a thorough training in the sacred sciences, but also a specific formation in the areas of priestly spirituality, the art of spiritual direction and other aspects of the difficult and delicate task that waits them in the education of future priests (cf. Ecclesia in Asia ). Once more I send a word of prayerful encouragement to the Korean Foreign Mission Society, asking the Lord to bless its work and grant it an increase of vocations for the vast harvest that lies before the Church in the Third Christian Millennium.
6. The documents of the Second Vatican Council contain numerous references to the importance for the universal Church and for each particular Church of the witness and apostolate of consecrated men and women.Through the observance of the evangelical counsels, they make visible in the Church the form that the Incarnate Word took upon himself during his earthly life (cf. Vita Consecrata VC 14). They are a sign of the new creation inaugurated by Christ and made possible in us by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, testifying to the supremacy of God and the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ (cf. Phil Ph 3,8). Apart from the various invaluable forms of service which consecrated men and women carry out in works of charity, in the intellectual apostolate, in health-care and other areas of ecclesial activity, their special charism is to offer a response to today’s widespread demand for authentic spirituality, which expresses itself in large part as a search for prayer and spiritual direction. I invite you to cherish the consecrated life as a special gift of God to your local communities and to give consecrated men and women the support of your ministry and friendship.
7. Dear Brother Bishops, your native land is often in my prayers. I rejoice whenever I hear of progress in advancing reconciliation, mutual understanding and cooperation among all the members of the Korean family. This is a field of action and service which the Church over which you preside should resolutely pursue day after day, discerning and following the signs which Providence offers.
To provide material and spiritual solidarity with the Catholic community and the whole population of North Korea, in appropriate ways and with pastoral charity, will undoubtedly prove a positive step towards reconciliation. I pray that Almighty God will continue to bless the efforts of those who work for the good of all the people of the peninsula.
I thank you once more for your generosity and commitment in carrying out the duties of your episcopal ministry, and for the spiritual communion and support which you have always shown me.
To the priests, religious and laity of Korea, I express once again my heartfelt encouragement, and in a special way I pray for the elderly and the sick whose sufferings in union with the Crucified Lord are a source of immense spiritual riches for all the People of God. With these sentiments, I commend all of you to Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, and to her I entrust the needs of the Church in Korea, as well as the joys and difficulties of your ministry. I ask the Holy Spirit to give your Dioceses a new outpouring of grace and energy for the mission still to be accomplished. To each of you and to the members of the Church in your land I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
To the Most Reverend Fathers
Prior General of the Order of Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (O.Carm.)
Superior General of the Order of Discalced Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (O.C.D.)
1. The providential event of grace, which the Jubilee Year has been for the Church, prompts her to look with trust and hope to the journey we have just begun in the new millennium. "At the beginning of this new century", I wrote in the Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, "our steps must quicken.... On this journey we are accompanied by the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom ... I entrusted the third millennium" (n. 58).
I therefore learned with deep joy that the two branches of the Order of Carmel, the ancient and the reformed, intend to express their filial love for their Patroness by dedicating the year 2001 to her, invoked as the Flower of Carmel, Mother and Guide on the way of holiness. In this regard, I cannot fail to stress a happy coincidence: the celebration of this Marian year for the whole of Carmel is taking place, according to a venerable tradition of the Order itself, on the 750th anniversary of the bestowal of the Scapular. This celebration is therefore a marvellous occasion for the entire Carmelite Family to deepen not only its Marian spirituality, but to live it more and more in the light of the place which the Virgin Mother of God and of mankind holds in the mystery of Christ and the Church, and therefore to follow her who is the "Star of Evangelization" (cf. Novo millennio ineunte, NM 58).
2. In their journey towards the "mountain of God, Christ the Lord" (Roman Missal, Opening Prayer of the Mass in honour of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 16 July), the various generations of Carmel, from the beginning until today, have sought to model their lives on Mary's example.
In Carmel therefore and in every soul moved by tender affection for the Blessed Virgin and Mother, there has thrived a contemplation of her, who from the beginning knew how to open herself to hearing God's Word and to obeying his will (Lc 2,19). For Mary, taught and formed by the Spirit (cf. Lk Lc 2,44-50), was able by faith to understand her own history (cf. Lk Lc 1,46-55) and, docile to the divine promptings, "advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross, where she stood, in keeping with the divine plan (cf. Jn Jn 19,25), enduring with her Only-begotten Son the intensity of his suffering and associating herself with his sacrifice in her mother's heart" (Lumen gentium, LG 58).
3. Contemplation of the Virgin presents her to us as a loving Mother who sees her Son growing up in Nazareth (cf. Lk Lc 2,40), follows him on the roads of Palestine, helps him at the wedding at Cana (cf. Jn Jn 2,5) and, at the foot of the Cross, becomes the Mother associated with his offering and given to all people when Jesus himself entrusts her to his beloved disciple (cf. Jn Jn 19,26). As Mother of the Church, the Blessed Virgin is one with the disciples in "constant prayer" (Ac 1,14); as the new Woman who anticipates in herself what will one day come to pass for us all in the full enjoyment of Trinitarian life, she is taken up into heaven from where she spreads the protective mantle of her mercy over her children on their pilgrimage to the holy mountain of glory.
Such a contemplative attitude of mind and heart prompts admiration for the Virgin's experience of faith and love; she already lives in herself all that every believer desires and hopes to attain in the mystery of Christ and the Church (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, SC 103 Lumen gentium, LG 53).
Therefore, Carmelites have chosen Mary as their Patroness and spiritual Mother and always keep before the eyes of their heart the Most Pure Virgin who guides everyone to the perfect knowledge and imitation of Christ.
Thus an intimacy of spiritual relations has blossomed, leading to an ever increasing communion with Christ and Mary. For the members of the Carmelite Family, Mary, the Virgin Mother of God and mankind, is not only a model to imitate but also the sweet presence of a Mother and Sister in whom to confide. St Teresa of Jesus rightly urged her sisters: "Imitate Our Lady and consider how great she must be and what a good thing it is that we have her for our Patroness" (Interior Castle, III, 1, 3).
4. This intense Marian life, which is expressed in trusting prayer, enthusiastic praise and diligent imitation, enables us to understand how the most genuine form of devotion to the Blessed Virgin, expressed by the humble sign of the Scapular, is consecration to her Immaculate Heart (cf. Pius XII, Letter Neminem profecto latet [11 February 1950: AAS 42, 1950, pp. 390-391]; Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen gentium, LG 67). In this way, the heart grows in communion and familiarity with the Blessed Virgin, "as a new way of living for God and of continuing here on earth the love of Jesus the Son for his Mother Mary" (cf. Angelus Address, in Insegnamenti XI/3, 1988, p. 173). Thus, as the blessed Carmelite martyr Titus Brandsma expressed it, we are put in profound harmony with Mary the Theotokos and become, like her, transmitters of divine life: "The Lord also sends his angel to us ... we too must accept God in our hearts, carry him in our hearts, nourish him and make him grow in us so that he is born of us and lives with us as the God-with-us, Emmanuel" (From the report of Bl. Titus Brandsma to the Mariological Congress of Tongerloo, August 1936).
Over time this rich Marian heritage of Carmel has become, through the spread of the Holy Scapular devotion, a treasure for the whole Church. By its simplicity, its anthropological value and its relationship to Mary's role in regard to the Church and humanity, this devotion was so deeply and widely accepted by the People of God that it came to be expressed in the memorial of 16 July on the liturgical calendar of the universal Church.
5. The sign of the Scapular points to an effective synthesis of Marian spirituality, which nourishes the devotion of believers and makes them sensitive to the Virgin Mother's loving presence in their lives. The Scapular is essentially a "habit". Those who receive it are associated more or less closely with the Order of Carmel and dedicate themselves to the service of Our Lady for the good of the whole Church (cf. "Formula of Enrolment in the Scapular", in the Rite of Blessing of and Enrolment in the Scapular, approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 5 January 1996). Those who wear the Scapular are thus brought into the land of Carmel, so that they may "eat its fruits and its good things" (cf. Jer Jr 2,7), and experience the loving and motherly presence of Mary in their daily commitment to be clothed in Jesus Christ and to manifest him in their life for the good of the Church and the whole of humanity (cf. "Formula of Enrolment in the Scapular", cit.).
Therefore two truths are evoked by the sign of the Scapular: on the one hand, the constant protection of the Blessed Virgin, not only on life's journey, but also at the moment of passing into the fullness of eternal glory; on the other, the awareness that devotion to her cannot be limited to prayers and tributes in her honour on certain occasions, but must become a "habit", that is, a permanent orientation of one's own Christian conduct, woven of prayer and interior life, through frequent reception of the sacraments and the concrete practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. In this way the Scapular becomes a sign of the "covenant" and reciprocal communion between Mary and the faithful: indeed, it concretely translates the gift of his Mother, which Jesus gave on the Cross to John and, through him, to all of us, and the entrustment of the beloved Apostle and of us to her, who became our spiritual Mother.
6. A splendid example of this Marian spirituality, which inwardly moulds individuals and conforms them to Christ, the firstborn of many brethren, is the witness to holiness and wisdom given by so many Carmelite saints, all of whom grew up in the shadow and under the protection of their Mother.
I too have worn the Scapular of Carmel over my heart for a long time! Out of my love for our common heavenly Mother, whose protection I constantly experience, I hope that this Marian year will help all the men and women religious of Carmel and the devout faithful who venerate her with filial affection to grow in her love and to radiate to the world the presence of this Woman of silence and prayer, invoked as Mother of Mercy, Mother of Hope and Grace.
With these wishes, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing to all the friars, nuns, sisters and lay people of the Carmelite Family, who work so hard to spread among the people of God true devotion to Mary, Star of the Sea and Flower of Carmel!
From the Vatican, 25 March 2001.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I cordially thank you for coming. I greet Archbishop Juliusz and Bishop Marek. I welcome the university's distinguished professors, students and personnel. I thank the rector for the kind words he spoke to me.
You have come here as representatives of the entire community of the Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznan to honour me with the title of doctor of your praiseworthy university. I gratefully accept this privilege. Although my direct contacts with the University of Poznan have not been frequent, I have always felt connected to it. I have considered the scientific milieu created around it as an important centre for our nation's cultural formation in the broad sense. How can we forget at this moment the words spoken by Adam Poszwinski at the university's inauguration in 1919: "Our wish is that this school should produce not only skilled professionals, but citizens with a national heart and spirit, citizens with a very high sense of civic service, who understand their profession as a service to the nation"! If this is so, if concern for the nation's spiritual good is the fundamental principle of this Alma Mater, it can only be dear to me.
Today this spiritual good of the nation should be seen in the perspective of the unification of Europe. It would be difficult, from such a standpoint, to overestimate the role of the Piast athenaeum. I said in 1983 at Poznan that this city had a significant role in the formation of Polish culture, thus giving it the characteristic traits of the European West (cf. 20 June 1983). Your university, linked from its most distant origins to Bishop Jan Lubranski and later to Bishop Adam Konarski, has been actively and effectively involved in building bridges down to our day between the patrimony of the Piast dynasty, of the Jagie³³ionians and of successive eras, and the spirit of Europe. I hope that in the future the University of Poznan will continue to be a meeting point between a Polish culture with a solid identity and a European culture that respects perennial values.
One more thought. I would not like the significance of this doctorate honoris causa to be limited to myself alone. I accept it as a sign of the creative coexistence of science and religion and of a fruitful cooperation between the scientific and ecclesiastical milieus. This sign seems all the more eloquent because the conferral of the degree was proposed by all the university's faculties. I am delighted that the Faculty of Theology is now among them. May this presence increasingly reveal the spiritual aspect of a science open to the infinite and, at the same time, may it help in the discovery of the solid, scientific foundations of belief.
I thank you again for your kindness. I ask you to express my cordial greetings to the university's professors, students and personnel who were unable to come here. They are all close to my heart and I remember them all in prayer. I ask God for an abundance of his blessings for you and for the entire community of the Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznan.
Your Excellency, Mons. Squicciarini,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Ph 1,2). With this greeting of St Paul, Apostle of the Gentiles, I welcome you to the Apostolic palace, where we have just had the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist together and to exchange the greeting of peace.
I gladly respond to the courteous words addressed to me on your behalf by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Donato Squicciarini. As he spoke of our meeting as a great honour, so I too wish to express the deep joy that this occasion gives me: the presentation of the third volume of my Messages for the World Peace Days from 1993 to 2000.
2. I thank my representative in Austria for his commitment as editor of this impressive work, and for the valuable contribution he is making in this way to the dissemination of the Messages of peace. At the same time, I express my gratitude to all those who have dedicated themselves to studying my thoughts on peace and can thus interpret them competently. Last but not least, I would also like to express my esteem to those who have published with such care this useful volume.
3. The message of peace is more timely than ever in an age when peoples are becoming closer and closer as the space between them is constantly reduced, which gives us the impression that the earthly globe is increasingly being reduced to a "global village". However, despite all the risks and dangers that are doubtless concealed in the globalization process, we must not ignore a phenomenon that represents a sign of hope: the growing awareness of mutual dependence among individual persons, ethnic groups and nations. The fact that men and women in various parts of the world perceive the injustices and violations of human rights - even if they are perpetrated in far off countries - as though they themselves had suffered them, shows a growing sensitization of hearts.
However, at the same time, there is cause for concern when national interests develop in such a way that the meeting of cultures is no longer seen as an enrichment but as a threat. The developments due to globalization must therefore also touch consciences. In this way the message of peace will acquire a new resonance.
4. The growing network of mutual relations among men and women in important and in small things literally demands solidarity. Indeed peace is only possible if reciprocal dependence already by its nature requires the defeat of every form of exclusion, the renunciation of every form of economic, military or national imperialism and the transformation of mutual diffidence into friendly collaboration. The special act of solidarity among individual persons and among peoples lies precisely in this.
In this context, I would like to recall the motto that my late and esteemed predecessor Pope Pius XII chose for his pontificate: Opus iustitiae pax. Peace is the fruit of justice. Today this motto can again be seen in the same biblical perspective (cf. Is Is 32,17, Jas 3: 18): Opus solidarietatis pax. Peace is the fruit of solidarity.
If the "peace of weapons" is to grow and to endure in time, man must entrust himself to the "weapons of peace": these include respect for human dignity, as well as the practice of justice and solidarity. These "weapons of peace" are dropped when the dignity of the human person is not respected, when the weak are oppressed and the poor discriminated against.
5. May this volume help many readers to acquire an ever deeper understanding of the message of peace and to put it into practice in their own lives! Talk about peace must not remain just words; it must also become action. In my heart I cherish the hope that the "culture of peace" will spread further, so that the globe may be encircled by the "net of peace", woven by the "globalization of solidarity". The volume you have prepared and have now published can certaintly contribute to achieving this objective. As a sign of gratitude and an acknowledgement for publishing this book, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. I am pleased to extend a cordial welcome to each of you who have come to Rome for the spring plenary assembly of the Commission of Episcopates of the European Community. I thank Bishop Josef Homeyer of Hildesheim in particular for his cordial words on your behalf. I also greet the representatives of the Episcopal Conferences of the candidate States of the European Union, and the members of the Executive Board of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences, who are taking part in your meeting of study and fellowship. I also extend my thoughts to the priests and lay people who support you generously and competently in your daily mission.
Today's meeting, a sign of the intense and profound communion that binds you to the Successor of Peter, gives me a closer knowledge of your projects and prospects for working with the European Ecclesial Communities. Your Commission intends to treat, from a pastoral perspective, the themes of growing importance related to the responsibilities and activity of the European Union, and to encourage cooperation among the Episcopates in matters of common interest.
2. The process of European integration is progressing, despite some difficulties, and other States are asking to join the Union of the Fifteen. What is being consolidated must not only be a geographical and economic reality for the continent, but must strive above all for a cultural and spiritual understanding forged by the fruitful interaction of many important values and traditions. In a spirit of sharing, the Church continues to make her own specific contribution to this important process of integration. My venerable Predecessors have hailed this process as a sure path to peace and harmony among peoples, seeing it as a faster way to achieve the "European common good".