Speeches 2001 - Sunday, 1 July 2001
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I warmly greet each one of you on the occasion of this study meeting, promoted by the Pontifical Academy for Life in order to examine the delicate problem related to the lawfulness of transplanting animal organs to human beings. I direct a special greeting to the dear Bishop Elio Sgreccia, Vice President of the Academy and leader of your group.
The goal of your work is, first of all, of human interest, since it is prompted by the necessity of resolving the problem of the grave insufficiency of human organs which are suitable for transplants: it is known that such an insufficiency means the death of a high percentage of sick people on waiting lists, who could be saved by the transplant. The transplants could prolong a life which is still good.
2. Certainly the passing of animal organs and tissues to people through transplants implies new problems of a scientific and ethical nature. You have raised these problems with responsibility and competence, simultaneously taking to heart the benefit and the dignity of the human person, the possible medical risks, which are not always quantifiable or foreseeable, the attentive consideration for animals, which is always a duty even when they are operated on for the greater good of man, who is a spiritual being in the image of God.
In these sectors, science is a necessary guide and valuable light. Scientific research must nevertheless be placed in the right perspective, being directed to the good of man and the safeguarding of his health.
3. Anthropology and ethics, in their turn, are ever more called to intervene in order to offer a necessary and complementary contribution, defining values and criteria to follow and, at the same time, establishing the conditions for an harmonious ordering of priorities, which must exist among them.
It is recognized more and more, as is clear from your very presence and from the composition of your group, that the alliance between science and ethics enriches both the branches of knowledge and calls them to converge when it comes to lending their help to everyone and to society.
The precautions and the clear conditions for progress in trnsplanting animal organs, which you have highlighted, are the fruit of the dialogue and of the convergence.
4. Rational reflection, confirmed by faith, discovers that God the creator has placed man at the summit of the visible world and at the same time has entrusted to him the task of directing his own way, with respect for his dignity, toward the true good of his fellow humn beings.
The Church, therefore, will always offer the proper support and help to those who search for the authentic good of the human person with the effort of reason, illumined by faith: "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth" (Fides et ratio, Intro.).
In expressing to you my appreciation for the work you have carried out and for the efforts accomplished with generosity and in a spirit of service to suffering humanity, I invoke on you, your families and the persons with whom you carry out your research the blessings of the God of all knowledge and of every goodness.
From the Vatican, 1 July 2001
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
1. I am pleased to address my cordial welcome to you all, new bishops, taking part in the World Study Days promoted by the Congregation for Bishops. I greet Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Dicastery, and I thank him for his words to me, expressing your sentiments and confirming your attachment and devotion to the Pope. I also express my grateful appreciation to dear Fr Marcial Maciel for the thoughtful hospitality which the Legionaries of Christ have offered to the Convention's participants during these days of prayer, listening and reflection.
The initiative, which has gathered the most recently appointed bishops in Rome from various parts of the world, deserves a favourable mention. Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, you are meeting in Rome to pause for a fraternal reflection and for serene examination of certain practical topics and problems that are more challenging to a bishop's life. I trust that having been able to listen to the testimonies of certain Pastors who have been bishops for many years, as well as to some who head the offices of the Roman Curia, will be useful to you who have only just taken on this ministry.
2. I know that your meeting has been intended also and above all as a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostle Peter, to build up collegial communion among you and with the Successor of Peter, chosen by Christ as the principal and visible foundation of the Church's unity.
For my part, I would like to reassure you of my spiritual closeness and to strengthen you in faith and trust in Jesus Christ, who has called you and made you Pastors of his people in our time.
The assembly during these days will certainly also be an important event of grace that has fostered within you a renewed adherence to your identity. It will be an occasion to think again of how to "rekindle the gift of God" that is within you through the laying on of hands, according to the Apostle Paul's exhortation to Timothy, under the guidance of a "spirit of power and love and self-control" (cf. II Tm 1,6-7).
My dear Brothers, you are the bishops of the beginning of the new millennium! We are, of course, living in a difficult and complex world. This is attested by the series of questions you have treated during these days in the reports and discussions. A bishop's ministry is not under the banner of triumphalism, but rather of the Cross of Christ. Indeed, with the sacrament of Orders, you have been more closely configured to Christ. No difficulty should distress you because Christ is our hope (cf. 1Tm 1,1). He walks beside us, yesterday, today and for ever (cf. Heb He 13,8). He is with us as the chief Shepherd (cf. 1P 5,4). It is he who guides his Church to the fullness of truth and life.
3. In exercising your ministry, what must motivate you is a great spirit of service. Today more than ever, the bishop's role should be understood in terms of service. The Council's Decree Christus Dominus reminds us: "In exercising his office of father and pastor the bishop should be with his people as one who serves" (n. 16). The bishop is the servant of all. He is at the service of God, and through his love, also of men.
"The bishop, servant of the Gospel, for the hope of the world": will be the theme of the 10th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod this coming autumn, on the life and ministry of bishops.
The bishop must exercise his office and his authority as a service to unity and communion. As bishops, we are called to lead the People of God on the paths of holiness; for this reason we must look to Christ as our model. The success of our pastoral ministry cannot be measured in terms of bureaucratic organization or statistical data: holiness is measured by other criteria.
A bishop's task is to be a "living sign of Jesus Christ" (cf. Lumen gentium, LG 21 "take the place of Christ himself"), to be a sign of Christ's love for every human person. How effectively we show Christ to the world largely depends on the authenticity of the way in which we follow him.
Personal holiness is the condition for the fruitfulness of our ministry as bishops of the Church. It is our union with Jesus Christ that determines the credibility of our witness to the Gospel and the supernatural effectiveness of our activity and our initiatives. We can only proclaim "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ep 3,8) with conviction if we stay faithful to love and friendship with Christ.
4. Still fresh from your sacramental ordination, you will certainly often think back to that moving moment, remembering the threefold "munus" which has been entrusted to you: to be teachers of the faith through teaching that truth which you have received and which it is your duty to transmit with fidelity; to be stewards of God's mysteries, for the sanctification of souls; to be pastors and guides of the People of God, whom Christ redeemed with his blood. I hope very much that the experience you have had in these days may revive in you that spirit of service which is patterned on Christ the Good Shepherd.
5. Dear bishops, apostolic service, as we well know, brings with it joys and hopes, but also difficulties, anxieties and enormous pastoral challenges. But you are not alone in your ministry because, as Successors of the Apostles, you are united with the Pope, the Successor of the Apostle Peter, and with all the members of the College of Bishops, with all the bishops in the world. The immense challenges before us are also great opportunities for the present time.
In thinking over the rich experience of the Jubilee Year which shed light on the greater need for Christ throughout the world, I would also like to entrust to you symbolically the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, which outlines the paths of the Church's journey at this new stage in history, extending her commitment towards new apostolic goals.
To you too, I repeat: "Duc in altum", (cf. Lc 5,4), put out into the deep courageously, your sails unfurled to the breath of the Holy Spirit.
For my part, I embrace you and assure you of my constant remembrance at God's altar, so that he will strengthen the spiritual bond that unites us. Together let us continue to work with renewed enthusiasm in building the kingdom of God and for the hope of the world. The true measure of your success will consist in greater holiness, in a more loving service to those in need, everyone helping "in caritate et veritate".
Let us entrust to Mary, Mother of the Church, the resolutions we have made in these days, so that she may be close to you with her maternal protection and make your every pastoral effort fruitful.
With these sentiments, I cordially impart to each one of you a special Apostolic Blessing, which I gladly extend to the communities entrusted to your pastoral care.
My dear Sisters,
1. I am happy to bid a cordial welcome to each of you, gathered in Rome for the 18th General Chapter of the Congregation of the School Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St Francis. My thoughts are particularly with Sr Maria Luceta Macik, the Superior General, and the General Council.
With this visit to the Successor of Peter, which you so ardently desired, you have wanted to give expression to your fidelity to the Vicar of Christ and your intention to face with renewed enthusiasm the challenges of today's apostolate. This engagement responds to an important dimension of your charism, which for some time now has led you to take on a greater missionary thrust. In order to bring the Good News of the Gospel, you have gone to the distant regions of Africa, the Americas and Asia, as well as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my great pleasure for the generosity with which you participate in the Church's mission in serving the poor and encourage you to continue the good work you have begun, following the Franciscan tradition of living the Gospel "sine glossa".
It was in this spirit that Mother Frances Antonia Lampel began your religious family in Graz, Austria, in 1843, and it was in her wake that Mother Mary Hyacinth Zahalka continued with a new foundation in Bohemia. These two women enriched with a new branch the immense tree planted by the Poverello of Assisi; with your congregation, entirely centred on Christ as he is listened to in the Gospel, celebrated and adored in the Eucharist, and served in the little ones. Taking inspiration from the essential nature typical of Franciscanism, your Rule revolves around the four fundamental compass points, represented by penance, contemplative prayer, poverty and humility. It is further specified through attention to the great values of simplicity and fraternity that make you ready to reach out to those afflicted by any type of poverty and to build peace in every social context.
Offering particular enlightenment for your missionary style is a saying of your foundress: "I am here with God for you". You recall it often, and rightly so, that it may encourage you to a life dedicated entirely to the service of the Lord and your neighbour.
2. Indeed, today your specific charism, constituted by the educational mission, demands creativity and generosity to reach out to people, wherever they may be, and promote their integral development, giving them a Christian education.
The grace of the Great Jubilee, by which the Lord wanted to prepare the Church to face the challenges of the new millennium in an unprecedented season of evangelization, impels each of you to make courageous choices, with the wisdom of the scribe described in the Gospel, who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old (cf. Mt Mt 13,52).
These choices require first and foremost a profound sense of belonging to Christ that, as I wrote in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, is not "some magic formula. No, we shall not be saved by a formula but by a Person, and the assurance which he gives us: I am with you!" (n. 29).
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" (ibid.), must be the centre of every program, every pastoral plan, and any "updating" of religious life. With him alone is it possible to "set out into the deep" towards new horizons of history, and to forge ahead with hope, although facing problems and difficulties which at times seem impossible to overcome.
Yes, it is only with your gaze fixed on Christ that today, you too could focus on your spiritual identity. And this, indeed, is the theme for reflection during your General Chapter, which I hope will bring you the desired religious and pastoral results.
3. When you look at the many expectations and plans that characterize your day to day activity, you should always keep in mind that every choice and every programme runs the risk of failing unless it is rooted in an individual and communal search for holiness. The desire for holiness, "this high standard of ordinary Christian living" (ibid., n. 31.), will help you to translate into consistent actions your commitment to the inculturation of the Gospel, as well as to bring peace to the complex situations in which you live, often dominated by the logic of violence and death.
If, faithful to your Franciscan charism, you want to witness to the great commandment of love, living it with joy and persevering patience, your communities and your works must be authentic homes and schools of fraternity, where the spirituality of communion emerges as a style of life and basic principle of education. To that end, you appreciate the contribution of all your sisters, including the elderly, who are the bearers of a great patrimony of experience and maturity.
From your witness and prayer will spring, I am certain, the flowering of vocations which you desire, which will in turn give new sap and abundant fruit to the ancient and fertile tree of your institute. Be especially mindful that contemplation and listening to the Word of God are the interior force of every form of apostolic activity and the heartbeat of a fervent and balanced religious life.
In your daily spiritual and missionary commitment may the Virgin Mary be close to you, as a teacher of faith and hope. To her I entrust your educational mission, your desire to serve your brothers and sisters, as well as the work and the generous proposals of the General Chapter that you are celebrating.
Through the intercession of Sts Francis and Clare of Assisi, I ask the Lord to give his heavenly gifts of peace and all good to your Congregation, and I cordially impart to you, to all your sisters, and to all those entrusted to your pastoral care a special Apostolic Blessing.
1. The providential circumstance of the XIV General Chapter of your Institute offers me the pleasing occasion to extend a cordial greeting to you, and to extend to all your sisters my grateful appreciation for the evangelical testimony given by your activity.
I greet, first of all, Rev. Sr Camilla Zani, Superior General, and the General Council, who helped her in the government of the religious family in the period just finished. I also wish to send an affectionate thought to all who in the various apostolic fields of your Congregation, benefit from the generous witness of the Sisters Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament. You are present in different parts of the world where impelled by the fire of charity, you put yourselves at the service of the Body of Christ, especially of his more needy and suffering members.
The ministry of mercy to the children of God afflicted by "old" and "new" forms of poverty is one of the characteristic elements of the presence of the Church in the third millennium. "As the unequivocal words of the Gospel remind us, there is a special presence of Christ in the poor, and this requires the Church to make a preferential option for them" (Novo Millennio ineunte NM 49).
In this spirit, one sees the significance of your decision to focus the chapter assembly's reflections on the sharing of bread, of the Word and of the mission, after the example of Christ who seeing the hungry crowd that followed him, had compassion (cf. Mk Mc 8,1-9).
Benefit of daily dialogue with the Lord in B.S.
2. How can the disciple of the Lord remain faithful to this vocation, if he does not cultivate an enduring, daily dialogue of love with Him in listening to the Word of God, in prayer and in contemplation?
The specific charism that distinguishes your presence in the Church, as entrusted to you by your Founder is to adore "the Most Blessed Sacrament with the most ardent love" and to draw "from it the flame of charity towards your neighbour". This is not only a spiritual guideline but a precise program of life. In the Eucharist the Christian reaches the most complete spiritual intimacy with the Lord of life and with His help, is elevated to the contemplation of love in the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.
What contentment of soul (cf. Lk 9,17) is experienced in the intense hours passed in adoration before the Lord of history! With this eucharistic conscience, Bl. Spinelli recommended to you: "Walk in charity; let the fire of charity be finally set ablaze in your souls, love your God and put nothing, nothing as equal to or above Him" (Circ. 32).
3. I sincerely hope that all your communities know how to remember daily, in front of the Eucharist, this heritage which your Founder left you. Thus, strengthened by the power of the Bread of Life, you will know how to keep alive the flame of charity within each of your houses.
May your lives, like that of your Father, be constantly marked by love for Christ in the Eucharist, service to the poor, an icon of Christ, and the practice of an always generous forgiveness, the instrument of a more closely united community. May the Eucharist, the perfect memorial of the sacrifice of Christ, be the paradigm of your personal lives.
4. As you well know, your Founder's point of reference was the dual concept of the "manger" and the "cross". He was constantly inspired by the mystery of Bethlehem and Golgotha, especially in the tempestuous moments of his life. He taught you that "the manger and Calvary are the first and the last note, the first and the last page of that immense, divine, ineffable poem of love and sacrifice, that is the whole life of Jesus Christ" (Circ. 29).
Imitate his example and communicate the same ideal of holiness to all whom you meet. In this regard, you can appreciate the opportunities to meet and dialogue with laity which your collaboration with them offers you. In the Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata I observed that "today, often as a result of new situations, many Institutes have come to the conclusion that their charism can be shared with the laity" (n. 54), especially in front of the challenges of modernity. I concluded by saying that "these new experiences of communion and cooperation should be encouraged" (n. 55), within the bounds of prudence and the awareness of the distinction between vocations and tasks in the Church.
5. Dear Sisters! Be happy to have chosen as the purpose of your life remaining in intimate union with the Redeemer. May the energy you receive from the prolonged time in contemplation before the Eucharist transform your lives into a daily oblation to Christ.
In the image of Mary, know how to meditate in your hearts the mystery of the Son (cf. Lk Lc 2,51) and offer a testimony to all whom Providence leads you to meet. May the example and the intercession of Blessed Francesco Spinelli spur you to unite your sacrifices to that of Jesus, so that the world "may have life and have it abundantly" (Jn 10,10).
May you be accompanied in your daily efforts by the Blessing I impart to you who are present, to your sisters and to all those to whom your apostolic care is directed.
Dear Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth,
1. I cordially greet you on the occasion of this meeting which takes place during the 21st General Chapter of your Congregation. I extend a special greeting to your Mother General, Sr Maria Teresa Jasionowicz.
You represent your eight religious provinces that embrace 15 countries, where you carry out your apostolic activity. You have come to Rome, to the Motherhouse and to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, to reflect with a sense of responsibility on the actual situation of the Congregation and to prepare the future. In this perspective, you intend to adapt your Constitutions and elect a new General Government.
2. In the "Message to Consecrated Persons" which I gave to religious communities at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, on 4 June 1997, I recalled that "we live in times of chaos, of spiritual disorientation and confusion, in which we discern various liberal and secularizing tendencies; God is often openly banished from social life ... and in people's moral conduct a harmful relativism creeps in. Religious indifference spreads. The new evangelization is an impelling need of the moment.... The Church expects you to dedicate yourselves with all your strength ... to stand up against the greatest temptation of our times: the denial of the God of Love" (L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 18 June 1997, p. 7).
Today's world carries with it many threats. Such is the experience of men and women, married couples, young people, children.... The most threatened, however, seems to be the family! We must not lose heart. The more numerous the dangers are, the greater is our need for faith, hope and charity with prayer and the witness of a Christian life. Your Congregation wants to offer an evangelical response to the restlessness of contemporary man. I rejoice to know that during your chapter work you plan to reread your religious charism in the optic of the new evangelization.
3. Your Foundress, Bl. Franciszka Siedliska, Maria of Jesus the Good Shepherd, whom I proclaimed Blessed on 23 April 1989, gave your community, as a model of life, the life of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Rightly I invite you to form yourselves after the example of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. She loved to characterize the Incarnation of the Son of God and the hidden life of Jesus in the mystery of the Holy Family as the kingdom of divine Love.
Forming a religious community of love, help families to resist "the greatest temptation of our time", the denial of the God of Love. Help families to open themselves to Christ! This will be possible to the extent that prayer life and your witness will be filtered by caring for the family. May families, thanks to your service, rediscover the model for their own lives and conduct in the Family of Nazareth. May you be strengthened by the example of your Blessed sisters, the 11 martyrs of Nowogròdek, who during World War II offered their lives for the liberation from prison of certain fathers of families, living in that area. I am delighted to have been able to elevate them to the glories of the altar during the celebrations of the Great Jubilee of 2000, 5 March. May the testimony of your life and fidelity to the charism sustain the work of evangelization and building the Kingdom of the Love of God in families.
4. The theme of the work of your General Chapter is: The law of love as the call to the total gift of self to God. For many years you have been seeking to correspond to this call through your apostolate, in which you strive to coooperate with Christ and with his Church. Bear witness to the law of love in your communities and especially in service to families who need spiritual and material help, in consultation and in pastoral family care, in zealous service to the sick, to the handicapped, in parish work, in schools, in educational centres, in homes for single mothers, among the homeless, children and people who are lost and unwanted.
I take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for this apostolate of love. It is the most effective proclamation of Christ to our world and the concrete realization of your religious charism. I entrust to you, dear Sisters who have come here, this Message so that you communicate it to all your communities. I pray to the Lord that the leaders of the Congregation, elected during the Chapter, receive the new challenges, in the spirit of its directives, so that your charism, the kingdom of the Love of God, will shine with an even greater splendour in your communities, in the Church and in the world. May it remain the clear reflection of that "Love that has visited us from on high" (cf. Lk Lc 1,78)!
5. In the apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte I addressed this exhortation to all the faithful: Duc in altum - put out into the deep! Today with these words I invite your community "to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm and to look forward to the future with confidence: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever'" (cf. n. 1). In the spirit of this exhortation, I pray to God that the grace of your religious vocation will bear abundant spiritual fruits.
I impart a heartfelt Apostolic Benediction to the Superior General, to the participants in the Chapter and to the whole community of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
To the Participants in the Eighth Vatican Observatory School in Astrophysics
The Eighth Vatican Observatory School in Astrophysics is the latest in the series of Schools stretching over the last fifteen years which have brought together more than two hundred young scholars and their teachers from every continent. They have come from over fifty nations, many of them from developing countries. From the beginning, the Schools have aimed to share the most recent results of astrophysical research with young scholars at an important time in their professional development. Their purpose has also been to contribute to progress in developing countries by introducing some of their most talented young people to the best of current scientific practice and theory in this area.
The heart of the Schools is the exchange of professional knowledge and personal experience between the teachers and students. Your personal and professional friendships, which embrace a variety of political, cultural and religious differences, are one of the most precious fruits of the School, and I pray that these bonds will endure through the years.
In this year’s School, you have been studying the final state of stars as they come to exhaust their normal sources of energy. This leads to an examination of some of the most fundamental characteristics of the universe, and inevitably directs our thoughts to our own destiny within that universe. The desire to understand creation and our own place within it according to the strict canons of science is one of the noblest of human aspirations; and I trust that the School will inspire you to pursue scientific knowledge in such a way that a fast-changing and troubled world will benefit from your dedication to understanding its mysteries.
The study of the astrophysical nature of stellar remnants may seem to have little to do with the betterment of humanity. Yet those who closely examine reality as scientists, artists, philosophers or theologians, and those who struggle to improve the economic, social and political conditions of the world’s peoples soon come to realize that all that is true, good and beautiful has its ultimate unique source in the One in whom ‘we live and move and have our being’ (Ac 17,28). Your astrophysical research is not a luxury remote from the daily concerns of people and irrelevant to the building of a more humane world. What you do as scientists is important for all of us, especially when your empirically grounded vision of reality leads to an understanding of the human person as an integral element in the created universe, that is, when it leads to the wisdom which is at the heart of all genuine humanism.
Yet our understanding of ourselves and of the universe will reach a point of true wisdom only if we are open to the many ways in which the human mind comes to knowledge: through science, art, philosophy, theology. Your scientific research will be most creative and beneficial to society when it helps to unify the knowledge deriving from these different sources, and leads to a fruitful dialogue with those who are working in other fields of learning. I am confident that the Vatican Observatory Schools in Astrophysics make a valuable contribution to such a unifying view of knowledge.
On this occasion I also wish to thank those of you who are helping to support the work of the Vatican Observatory. Through your interest in the Observatory, you share in the journey of these young scholars as they seek to understand a universe which is slowly revealing itself in all its vastness and mystery. Science has certainly been one of humanity’s guiding lights on its journey through time; but, as we seek to unify our scientific knowledge with all that we know as human beings, we sense that we are being led to other still more mysterious realities and that our passion to know is incomplete if it does not spark in us the desire to give and receive love.
As I greet you today, the words of the Psalm come to mind: ‘How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth! When I see the heavens, the work of your hands, the moon and the stars which you arranged, what is man that you should keep him in mind, mortal man that you care for him?’ (Ps 8,2 Ps 4-5). With heartfelt thanks for your contribution to our knowledge of the cosmos and of the Love that gives it life, I invoke upon all of you the abundant blessings of God whose name is great through all the universe.
From the Vatican, 2 July 2001
Speeches 2001 - Sunday, 1 July 2001