Speeches 2001 - Friday, 1 June 2001

GREETINGS OF THE HOLY FATHER JOHN PAUL II

TO THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY,

PRIMATE OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION

June 1, 2001

Your Grace,
Dear Friends,

I greet you and welcome you with the prayer of the great Apostle of the Nations: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Ph 1,2).

It gives me particular pleasure, Your Grace, to meet you so soon after your celebration of ten years as Archbishop of Canterbury. I wish you personally every happiness, confident that the Lord will continue to sustain you in the many and difficult tasks of your service to the Anglican Communion throughout the world.

Remembering the marvellous experience of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, my prayer for Christian unity is ever more intense. I was pleased to learn of the good results of the meeting of Anglican and Catholic Bishops in Canada last year. May the Lord bless this initiative with fruits of deeper understanding and reconciliation between Anglicans and Catholics in a world that stands in such urgent need of our greater common witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ our Risen Saviour.

I thank you for your kind visit, and as we prepare to celebrate Pentecost let us open our hearts and minds to the transforming grace of the Holy Spirit. Godís blessings be with you all!




TO THE COMMUNITY

OF THE "PONTIFICIO COLLEGIO FILIPPINO" IN ROME

June 2, 2001

Dear Filipino Friends,


On the happy occasion of the Fortieth Anniversary of the foundation of the Pontificio Collegio Filippino, I join you in thanking God for all that the College has represented for the Church in the Philippines and the Filipino community in Rome since its solemn inauguration on October 7, 1961, by my predecessor, Blessed Pope John XXIII.

My visits to your country have enabled me to experience at first hand the warm hospitality and lively faith of your people. These are the people that you, the young priests of the College, are preparing to serve. You know that you are often in their thoughts and prayers, and that they expect much of you. They expect you to be priests after the heart of Jesus.

I invite you to develop a deep and authentic Eucharistic spirituality, and to let yourselves be formed according to the model of Christ, the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his flock (cf. Jn Jn 10,11). Learn to love the Sacrament of Penance, so that as confessors you may make known to the faithful the compassionate heart of God who reconciles us to himself. Be men of prayer, charity and zeal.

Study is also an essential dimension of the priestís entire life. He shares in the prophetic mission of Christ, and he is called to reveal to others, in Jesus Christ, the true face of God and, as a result, the true face of man. Through your commitment to study you will be prepared to carry out the ministry of the word, proclaiming the mystery of salvation clearly and without ambiguity, distinguishing it from mere human opinion. Always see your intellectual work as a service to the People of God, helping them to give an account, to all who ask, of their Christian hope (cf. 1P 3,15).

I pray that the Pontificio Collegio Filippino will continue to fulfil its mission to form priests imbued with love of God and zeal for spreading the Gospel. Entrusting you and your families to the intercession of your Patroness, Nuestra SeŮora de la Paz y Buen Viaje, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.




TO THE BISHOPS OF GABON

ON THEIR "AD LIMINA" VISIT

Tuesday, 5 June 2001

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,


1. I am glad to greet you during your ad limina visit, Bishops of the Catholic Church in Gabon. On the day after the celebration of the feast of Pentecost, I hope that the Holy Spirit will lavish his gifts upon you so that you may be more and more faithful in exercising the ministry you have received from the Lord. May your meetings with the Successor of Peter and the dicasteries of the Roman Curia be intense moments of ecclesial communion and apostolic comfort for you!

I extend my cordial thanks to Archbishop Basile Mvť Engone of Libreville, President of your Bishops' Conference, for his kind words on your behalf. Since the last ad limina visit of the Gabonese Bishops, the Episcopate has had a considerable number of new members. I warmly encourage you to continue to strengthen the bonds of communion that unite you, so as to carry out your duty fruitfully and to develop true pastoral harmony among your Dioceses. Pass on to your priests, religious, catechists and all the faithful of your Diocese, my affectionate greetings and the assurance of my spiritual closeness.


Through you, I greet all the people of Gabon, asking God to grant them to live in peace and to help them in their efforts to build a supportive society where each one may be completely fulfilled.

2. The Jubilee Year which has just ended has given the whole Church an opportunity for spiritual and missionary renewal. Thus it is now necessary to give a new impetus to evangelization. To do this, as I was able to write in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, "all pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness" (n. 30), for if our Baptism is our true entry into the holiness of God, "it would be a contradiction to settle for a life of mediocrity, marked by a minimalist ethic and a shallow religiosity". To be credible witnesses of the Gospel they proclaim to their brethren, Christians must firmly lift their gaze to Christ the Lord, the Saviour of all humanity.

I therefore ask you to advance enthusiastically on the rough paths of the mission. Of course, I know the limits of your human and material means. But the Lord has assured us of his presence in our midst. Do not be afraid to let yourselves be imbued by the missionary enthusiasm that enlivened the Apostle Paul, reaching out to men and women who have not received the Good News. Indeed, everyone is entitled to know the riches of Christ's mystery.

For some years now, the Church's activity in your country, which we desire to be at the service of all the Gabonese without distinction, can develop within a new juridical framework. I am delighted with the agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Gabon to work to promote the common good, the guarantee of people's spiritual and material well-being. It is to be hoped that, with respect for the independence and autonomy of the two parties, this spirit of collaboration will develop more widely, especially in order to allow Catholic schools to contribute more and more effectively to the human and spiritual education of youth in your country.

3. The formation of evangelizers is of great importance in assuring the Church's future on the African continent. The Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops has emphasized the need to train lay people so that they can play their irreplaceable part in the Church and in society. I would therefore like to extend a special greeting to the catechists of your Dioceses, whose place in the development of Christian communities continues to be crucial. I strongly encourage you to give these precious collaborators of the mission attentive material, moral and spiritual support, and to enable them to benefit from a solid initial and ongoing doctrinal formation.

Your country's faithful must also be able to assume their civic responsibilities and "bring to bear upon the social fabric an influence aimed at changing not only ways of thinking but also the very structures of society, so that they will better reflect God's plan for the human family" (Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, ). It is therefore right to help lay people lead a life in harmony with their faith so that their activities and responsibilities may be an ever more genuine witness to the Gospel in all social classes.

Moreover it is indispensable that Christian families have a lively awareness of their mission in the Church and in society. A family ministry adapted to the great problems that arise today, especially with regard to respect for human life, will help encourage the faithful witness of faith by couples living in conformity with all the aspects of the divine law, as well as through their commitment to giving their children an authentically Christian upbringing. May the Church remain close to families in difficult situations by giving them her disinterested help and always be able to reflect for them the Lord's truth, kindness and understanding.

I hope that the young people of your Dioceses will always be able to find in their encounter with Christ, the secret of true freedom and deep inner joy. In the thick of the problems that beset them, may they never lose trust in the future, but accept to work courageously with their brothers and sisters for the coming of a new world founded on brotherhood and justice.

4. To reunite God's family in brotherhood that is enlivened by love and to lead it to the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit (cf. Decree Presbyterorum ordinis, PO 6), priests are your necessary and irreplaceable collaborators whom you must consider as brothers and friends, showing concern for their material and spiritual situation and spurring them to fraternal collaboration with you and among themselves.

I warmly greet all your priests and urge them to persevere generously, despite obstacles, in the commitments which they made on the day of their ordination. May they always remember that they have received a specific call to holiness and that they are bound to strive for perfection in all the areas of their life, especially by an upright moral life, with their whole selves, consciously, freely and responsibly, deeply involved in the exercise of their ministry! For this, there must be a close connection between the exercise of the ministry and an intense spiritual life. It is therefore of paramount importance that each priest "continually renew and deepen his awareness of being a minister of Jesus Christ by virtue of sacramental consecration and configuration to Christ the Head and Shepherd of the Church" (Pastores dabo vobis PDV 25). Only a habitual intimacy with Christ, expressed particularly in prayer and in recourse to the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, will give them the strength and courage to resist when they are put to the test and to accept to return faithfully to the Lord after falling. I also urge the presbyterate in each one of your Dioceses, indigenous priests and missionaries originally from other countries, to show unity and deep communion around the Bishop, to be convinced that they are at the service of the same mission which has been entrusted to them by the Church in Christ's name.

The pastoral care of priestly and religious vocations will require the greatest attention if the building and growth of the local Church is to continue. The irreproachable example of the lives of priests and consecrated persons is a vigorous incentive to the young to help them make a generous response to the Lord's call. In the promotion of vocations, and in discernment and guidance, the Bishop is primarily responsible, and must personally assume this responsibility, while assuring himself of the indispensable collaboration of his presbyterate and reminding Christian families, catechists and all the faithful of their specific responsibility in this context.

Setting up teams of formation teachers and spiritual directors for major seminaries must be a priority for Bishops. I therefore charge you to join forces and to seek collaboration, so that the national major seminary may accept the young men of your dioceses who have received the Lord's call to the priesthood and give them a solid formation that will prepare them to exercise their priestly ministry with the qualities required of representatives of Christ, as true servants and leaders of the Christian communities. It is indispensable that this human, intellectual, pastoral and spiritual formation also enable them to test and to develop their affective maturity, and to be deeply convinced that for the priest, celibacy is inseparable from chastity (cf. Ecclesia in Africa, ).

5. I would also like to testify to the Church's gratitude for missionary congregations' work in ecclesial life in Gabon. Through their disinterested and at times heroic apostolic work, their members, but also lay Christians, have passed on the torch of faith to your people and have enabled the Church to put down roots and to grow in your country.

Men religious today, whether from Gabon or from other countries, play an important part in the pastoral life of your dioceses in a spirit of communion and collaboration, with you and with the diocesan clergy. Women religious, with their parish, educational or hospital activities, work generously at the service of the people without distinction of origins or religion, and thus attract everyone's esteem.

I deeply hope that the consecrated life will develop in your Dioceses so as to contribute to building up the local Church in charity in accordance with the charism proper to each institute. Accept it as a gift of God "a precious and necessary gift for the present and future of the People of God, since it is an intimate part of her life, her holiness and her mission" (Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata, VC 3)! By your support, you will encourage the different institutes to give all their members a sound formation, which will enable them to respond to the spiritual and human needs of their vocation.

6. Among the urgent needs for the Catholic Church at the beginning of the new millennium, is the quest for Christian unity. Of course, a lot of ground must still be covered. We should not be discouraged but confidently develop increasingly calm and fraternal relations with the members of other Churches and ecclesial communities. Likewise, encounters with the believers of Islam and of the Traditional African Religion, in a spirit of openness and dialogue, are very important. I therefore encourage you to preserve friendly relations with the religious communities that make up society, to guarantee the conditions for a harmonious existence in mutual respect to all the Gabonese.

However, as I wrote in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, "dialogue cannot be based on religious indifferentism, and we Christians are in duty bound, while engaging in dialogue, to bear clear witness to the hope that is within us" (n. 56).

7. Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, with these sentiments, at the end of our meeting, I ask you to continue with courage and daring to announce joyfully the gift that the Lord is offering to all men and women. "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (Jn 3,16). The mission's priority task is to proclaim to everyone that it is in Christ that people find salvation. Strengthened by his active presence, the Church cannot shirk the urgent need of the missionary mandate which sends her to all nations and all peoples. May the experience of the Jubilee Year that we have just celebrated give you fresh enthusiasm to go ahead with hope!

I entrust all your Dioceses to the motherly intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Africa, and I wholeheartedly impart to you an affectionate Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly extend to your priests, to the men and women religious, to the catechists and to all the lay faithful of Gabon.



MESSAGE OF THE HOLY FATHER JOHN PAUL II

TO THE UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL

OF THE UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION

SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

FOR CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICTS


To Mr.Olara A. Otunnu
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Organization
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflicts


On the occasion of the Symposium Children in Armed Conflicts: Everyone's Responsibility being held at the United Nations Headquarters on June 5, 2001, and organized with your Office by the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See, I send cordial greetings to you and all taking part, and I assure you of my prayerful solidarity.

The theme of the Symposium draws much-needed attention to the sad plight of countless children who are victims of war in various parts of the world. The memory of those who have been killed and the continuing tribulations of so many others compel us to spare no effort to bring such conflicts and wars to an end, and to do everything possible to help their young victims return to a healthy and dignified life. In this regard, the United Nations Organization, together with other humanitarian and religious organizations, have been working tirelessly to relieve these inhuman sufferings. They deserve our gratitude, support and encouragement.

Children and young people are "precious members of the human family, for they embody its hopes, its expectations and its potential" (Message for the WorId Day of Peace 1996, No. 9). The challenge facing individuals and organizations, indeed the entire international community, is to ensure that children everywhere are given the possibility of growing up in peace and happiness. Then they too will become peacemakers, builders of a world of fraternity and solidarity.

With these thoughts, I pray that this important Symposium will lead to a greater awareness of the seriousness of the problems of children in situations of armed conflict. Upon all taking part 1 invoke abundant divine blessings.


From the Vatican, May 30, 2001.

JOHN PAUL II




TO THE THIRD ORDER REGULAR

OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI

Thursday, 7 June 2001



Dear Brothers of the Third Order Regular of St Francis of Assisi,

1. I am pleased to welcome you during your General Chapter and greet you with affection. I extend a special greeting to Fr Ilija Zivkovic, whom you have called to take on the task of Minister General. My congratulations and best wishes to him and to those newly appointed by the Definitor General for fruitful work at the service of the Order and of the whole Church.

You have gathered for a careful examination of your religious, personal and community life, having as a term of reference the Gospel and the penitential charism, outlined at the time of the Third Order's origins and confirmed in so many centuries of history. In this perspective, you are aware of the urgent need for continuous renewal on your way of perfection in the footsteps of the "Poverello". Indeed, from this flows apostolic enthusiasm which reveals your hearts to your brethren and prepares you to take on their existential problems, in order to collaborate with Christ in the plan of salvation.

2. Following Christ in accordance with the teaching and example of St Francis of Assisi is a special privilege for you, for which you must be deeply grateful to the Lord who has called you. So many centuries of apostolic and charitable witness have enriched your Order with merits and experience, endowing you with a particular spiritual heritage, which you must take into account in your reviewing and planning.

However, religious life, imbued with the Gospel, does not stop at satisfaction with the past, but intensely lives the present and enthusiastically projects to the future. The dialectic between heritage and prophecy gives a valid basis to your hopes for the third millennium, which has already started so well.

In this perspective you must feel committed to an ever deeper conversion to God, in whom you have placed your every hope. He must polarize your mind, setting you free from the many hindrances that could reduce the effectiveness of your Gospel witness in today's world. May the Father "grant you ... to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you ... may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ep 3,16 Ep 3,17 Ep 3,19).

If, like Francis of Assisi, you carry the Lord's Spirit in your hearts and reflect Christ's image in your attitude, your presence in the Church will bear many fruits of life and will make an effective contribution to building the civilization of love, modelled on the Gospel.

3. In "dynamic fidelity" to your charism, "look to the future, where the Spirit is sending you in order to do even greater things" (Vita consecrata, VC 110). Letting yourselves be transformed by the Spirit, you cooperate effectively in the evangelization of the contemporary world and become "privileged partners in the search for God, which has always stirred the human heart and has led to the different forms of asceticism and spirituality" (ibid., n. 103).

In particular, persevere in your commitment to the missionary apostolate, where your order has acquired considerable merits, offering services of Franciscan life, culture and active charity.
With a creative search, think up works of mercy that will renew your traditional attention to society's poorest and weakest, since serving the needy is an act of evangelization, the seal of Gospel authenticity and a catalyst for permanent conversion" (cf. ibid., n. 82).

Like Francis of Assisi, preach peace and repentance, promote justice, defend the rights of the human person, raise your voice against exploitation and violence, attentively care for all the wounds that make humanity groan today.

4. If you can read the signs of the times in a perspective of faith and with a loving gaze, it will be easy for you to identify new forms of evangelization and charitable service, adapted to present needs.

Diligently help to promote culture, both as a service to your brothers and sisters in search of the truth and as a means of integral formation and a path of asceticism (cf. ibid., n. 98). Study is "an expression of the unquenchable desire for an ever deeper knowledge of God, the source of light and all human truth ... it is an incentive to dialogue and cooperation, a training in the capacity for judgement, a stimulus to contemplation and prayer in the constant quest for the presence and activity of God in the complex reality of today's world" (ibid., n. 98).

Lastly, do not forget your recognized commitment to Christian unity and ecumenical dialogue, as well as openness to interreligious dialogue, which is also part of the Church's evangelizing mission (cf. Redemptoris missio, RMi 55).

5. Here before you, dear brothers in Christ, is an exciting programme for the third millennium, which expects to see you as witnesses of Gospel conversion, workers of charity and evangelization, prophets of a world renewed in faith and love, through a fruitful inculcation of Christian values.

On this penitential journey, marked by the rhythms of conversion of heart and the sequence of works of mercy, Francis of Assisi is your master and model. Look to him, and he will lead you to Christ on the paths of the Gospel, in order to bring about a deep experience of love for God and for your brothers and sisters.

With this wish, I cordially impart my Blessing to all of you and to all the friars of the Order, as well as to the cloistered Members of the Third Order Regular.



MESSAGE OF JOHN PAUL II

TO THE DIOCESAN ASSEMBLY OF ROME




Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. At the beginning of the great gathering of the Diocesan Assembly, meeting in the Basilica of St John Lateran, I would like to extend my good wishes to you.

This Assembly is the response to the invitation I addressed to you at the end of the City Mission, on the Vigil of Pentecost in 1999, saying that "a specific reflection must be fostered which will involve all sectors of the Church and result in a special convention ... which will have as its goal to draw up the clear lines of the important work of evangelization and missionary outreach on the basis of the experience of the City Mission".

I know that you have been preparing for some time for this important meeting through prayer, spiritual and pastoral discernment and the formulation of practical proposals by every parish and diocesan institution.

On the basis of the working document drawn up in October 2000, you have concluded a phase of listening and of dialogue which involved priests, men and women religious and the laity, especially members of Pastoral Councils, missionaries and all those who are occupied in the service of the Church and the Christian formation of society.

The Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte and the Letter of 14 February that I sent to the Diocese, readily received and lovingly pondered, have been a sure guide in the preparation of the Assembly and remain a most important reference for preparing the pastoral plan for the coming years.

2. "Set out anew from Christ for the permanent mission in the city": this motto, at the centre of your reflection, expresses well the objective and content of the Assembly.

Jesus Christ, with his living presence and his message, should mould the life of every believer and of every community, for a strong and credible witness. So we ask the Lord that holiness may be for us the "high standard of ordinary Christian living" (Novo Millennio ineunte NM 31), so that the proclamation of Christ may reach all the men and women of our city and be the source of conversion and renewal for personal and family life, as for every sphere of work and culture.

Reinforce the Word of God; Eucharist and an ongoing school of prayer bring union with Christ
I ask you to give great importance to listening to the Word of God, to making everyone appreciate the Eucharist, especially Sunday Mass, to making parishes and ecclesial realities a permanent "school" of prayer, "where the meeting with Christ is expressed not just in imploring help but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration contemplation, listening and ardent devotion, until the heart truly "falls in love'" (ibid., n. 33).

3. From intimacy and familiarity with the Lord is born that deep union with him that is at the root of the spirituality of communion: Father I ask you that my disciples "may all be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I am in you, that they may also be even in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn 17,21). Christ's prayer for the unity of his disciples that sustains and enlivens the journey, requires first of all the full and sincere unity of all vocations, ministries and pastoral expressions of which the Church of Rome is full. May all our parishes and communities be homes where one experiences communion as something that is lived (cf. Novo Millennio ineunte NM 43).

We need to go forward united on the paths of the mission, sustained by communities where fraternal love is lived as an educational principle by every baptized person, an exercise in mutual acceptance, listening and pardon, most of all for those who are weakest in their faith, for the little ones, the poor in whom the Lord Jesus is particularly present.

4. The celebration of the Diocesan Assembly is a moment of grace for consolidating our communion with Christ and our ecumenical communion. Thus, guided by the Holy Spirit, you will be able to discern the most suitable ways to carry out the permanent mission in our city and to respond to expectations of the universal Church towards whom the Church of Rome has, by divine disposition, a special care.

I make a special request to you, dear Reverend Fathers, to direct and encourage everyone to "put out into the deep", in order to bring the Gospel into homes, workplaces, neighbourhoods and the entire city. You are called to form missionaries, to instil apostolic courage in them, and to give the example of a life lived for the Gospel with the burning desire of the Good Shepherd: "I must bring them also...." (Jn 10,16).

I ask Christian families to open their homes in order to welcome other brothers and sisters in the centres for listening to the Gospel and to take to heart more fully the situations of moral, spiritual or material difficulty into which many families fall. You should offer them the concrete witness of friendship, listening and sharing.

I ask you, men and women religious and lay people, who have been very active in the various initiatives of the city mission, to keep alive, in you and in your communities, the enthusiasm to "go out" to witness and announce the Gospel in the great "open sea" of the world of work, of culture and of society.

I renew to young people the invitation I made to them at Tor Vergata to be "sentinels" of the third millennium just begun. Dear young people, do not shrink back in the face of the more demanding calls that the Lord addresses to you. Do not be afraid to offer the Gospel joyfully and simply to your companions, in schools, universities, at work, in free time, in every place where you gather.

5. Dear friends, awaiting the results of your Assembly, I assure you of my prayers that the Holy Spirit direct your work towards a new season of grace for the Church of Rome and her missionary outreach. I ask a special prayer from all our cloistered sisters who can give the most precious contribution to this objective.

I thank the Cardinal Vicar, the Vicegerent, the Auxiliary Bishops and each of you who have participated in this Assembly. You are the living and generous forces our Diocese counts on, to bring to all the residents of this city the proclamation of the Risen Lord, the testimony of love and his peace.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Salus Populi Romani, the Apostles Peter and Paul and all the saints of the Church of Rome help the work of the Assembly with their intercession, that it may produce abundant fruits of grace.

With these wishes and as a sign of my affection, I impart to you and to the whole Diocese my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 7 June 2001

JOHN PAUL II





TO HIS BEATITUDE IGNACE PIERRE VIII,

PATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH FOR SYRIAN CATHOLICS

ON THE OCCASION OF A VISIT

OF ECCLESIASTICAL COMMUNION

WITH THE CHURCH OF ROME

Friday, 8 June 2001



Your Beatitude,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear sons and daughters of the Syrian Catholic Church,

1. With great joy, for the first time since your election to the patriarchal see of Antioch in Syria, I welcome Your Beatitude. Your presence reminds me of my recent pilgrimage to your country in the footsteps of St Paul during which the clergy and faithful of your Church warmly welcomed me and showed me their spiritual and apostolic drive. I ask you, who are here today, to give my affectionate greeting to all your brothers and sisters.

I am delighted to meet with you here, surrounded by Bishops of your Patriarchate, by priests and faithful, whom I greet, to share this great moment of fraternal communion. Through it we express the bonds that unite the Syrian Catholic Church to the whole Catholic Church. We have just lived this communion in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy where we have shared the one Body of Christ. Through this sharing, we have fully expressed the ecclesial communion between Peter's Successor and Your Beatitude, Father and Head of the Syrian Catholic Church of Antioch, apostolic see and city that can be proud of its particular ecclesiastical tradition. Your patriarchal community, full of love and strong in faith, is the bearer of a rich spiritual, liturgical and theological tradition, the Antiochian tradition, that continues to nourish the Eastern Churches.

2. You are called, primarily by your presence in various Middle Eastern countries, to be like yeast which, in a discreet way, has a fundamental role in leavening the whole lump of dough. Your mission is of capital importance for the faithful and for everyone else, to whom the love of Christ impels us to announce the Good News of salvation. I praise the Christian's care for the human, spiritual, moral and intellectual education of young people through an organized school system and high quality catechetical programmes. I sincerely hope that the society will recognize ever more the Church's role in the formation of youth, so that, without any discrimination, the fundamental values and the elements that will make the young people of today, tomorrow's leaders in their families and in social life, will be transmitted to the younger generations. May this lead to a greater solidarity and a more intense fraternity among all in the nation. Communicate to the young people my affection, reminding them that the Church and society need their enthusiasm and their hope.

You are heirs of a history of faith nourished by the theological thought of great schools like Edessa or Nisibi. Through the teachings of illustrious, holy Fathers like Ephrem, "Harp of the Holy Spirit" and Doctor of the Church, James of SÍrug, Narsaj and many others, you must continually follow their footsteps. You must develop the theological and spiritual studies proper to your tradition which will strengthen your ecclesial communities and favour contacts with your Orthodox brothers. In this perspective, I invite you to intensify the formation of priests so that they will be witnesses of the Word of God in their teaching and their lives, and they can accompany the People of God, helping the faithful to root their lives and their mission in an ever deeper relationship with Christ. In this way the Church will be fully missionary everywhere and to the ends of the earth.

3. I take the opportunity, Your Beatitude, to recall your immediate predecessors, in the first place the dear Brother Mar Ignace Antoine II Hayek, who with an exemplary fervour and devotion, dedicated his whole life to the service of God and of the community entrusted to him. With great wisdom and fatherly goodness he guided the Syrian Catholic Church for 30 years. I would be grateful if you give him my cordial and warmest best wishes so that he may be serene in this period of his life. I also greet Cardinal Mar Ignace Moussa I Daoud, to whom I have entrusted, in the Roman Curia, the important responsibility of guiding the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. I thank him for having accepted it with unselfishness and deep ecclesial zeal, thus showing his love for the Church. He makes present, to Peter's Successor and to the Roman Curia, that most precious treasure which the Eastern Churches represent.

4. Your Beatitude, I give you my best wishes that the exercise of your duties at the heart of the Syrian Catholic Church will be fruitful. While we exchange the holy kiss of peace, entrusting you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, "daughter worthy of God and beauty of human nature" (St John Damascene, Homily on the birth of Mary, n. 7), and to the saints of your Church, I wholeheartedly grant you all my Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to the bishops, priests, religious and all the faithful of your Patriarchate.




Speeches 2001 - Friday, 1 June 2001