Speeches 2003 - Monday, 29 September 2003

Like many others religious Institutes, the Norbertine family is experiencing some difficulties in attracting vocations. In this regard, I encourage you to persevere in your efforts to make known to the world, especially to the young, the beauty and joy of a religious vocation. Let the pledge which you make at your profession — Offerens trado me ipsum Ecclesiae — be a living and eloquent expression of your “radical gift of self for the love of the Lord Jesus and, in him, for every member of the human family” (Vita Consacrata, 3).

My dear Brothers in the Lord, may God enlighten you during these days of deliberation and sustain you on the path of holiness and service to his Church. Invoking the intercession of Our Blessed Lady, Queen of the Rosary, I accompany you with my thoughts and prayers, and cordially impart to you, the members of the General Chapter and to all the Canons Regular of Prémontré my Apostolic Blessing.

                                                     October 2003




Friday, 3 October 2003

To Reverend Fr Joseph Tobin
Superior General of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer

1. The General Chapter that your Institute is celebrating gives me the welcome opportunity to extend my cordial greeting to you, your delegates and to all of the brothers. I also join in congratulating you, dear Father, on your re-election as Superior General, and offer my best wishes for your and the new General Council's effectual work. In these days of intense prayer and community reflection, you intend to gather energy to give a renewed impulse to the central core of the charism of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer: the proclamation of the "copiosa redemptio" to the poor. In fact, the General Chapter is focusing its reflection on the theme: "to give one's life for abundant redemption".

May the Holy Spirit grant to each one that wisdom of heart and prophetic zeal which are so necessary for guaranteeing your Religious Family a more energetic missionary trust.

On this important occasion, I am pleased to continue a dialogue with your Congregation that, in the years gone by, has known particularly intense moments. In the Apostolic Letter Spiritus Domini, on the occasion of the bicentenary of the death of St Alphonsus (in 1987), I had the opportunity to stress once more the actuality of the moral and pastoral message of the Patron Saint of Confessors and of Moralists, a "master of wisdom for his time", who "continues to enlighten the path of the People of God with the example of his life and teaching, as a light reflecting Christ, the light of the nations" (cf. L'Osservatore Romano English edition, [ORE], 17 August 1987, p. 4).

Ten years later, on the anniversary of the third centenary of his birth, I wrote: "It is necessary forcefully to proclaim the fullness of meaning which Christ reveals to human life, the unshakable foundations he offers to values, the new hope he brings to our history. This preaching must be incarnated in the concrete challenges facing humanity today and on which its future depends. Only in this way will the civilization of love awaited by all take shape" (ORE, 9 October 1996, p. 9).

2. The General Chapter now brings you to examine the realities of your Institute that, like others, is going through a phase of encouraging growth in certain parts of the world, whereas in others it is showing signs of crisis and fatigue. If, for example, in some countries vocations are flourishing, in others they are so scarce as to be worrisome even to the point of threatening your presence in these areas in the future. If the temptation of conforming to certain lifestyles, which are culturally dominant today, were to contaminate your communities, your religious spirit and evangelizing impetus would run the risk of being weakened. Equally, resigning yourselves to static pastoral methods that no longer provide adequate answers to the redemptive need of the men and women of today, could prevent the hoped-for missionary revival of your entire religious family.

How necessary, then, is that discernment which prophetically seeks to analyse the signs of the times in the light of the Word of God! I am certain that the General Chapter will imbue with a more decisive impulse the work of renewal that you have undertaken, singling out priorities and courageous apostolic choices, that will involve every Brother in their application with generous commitment. Without the contribution of all, it is difficult to arrive at the new spiritual thrust so hoped for.

Dear Redemptorists, allow yourselves to be led by the Spirit of the Crucified and Risen Lord. Here, I repeat to you what I wrote to the entire People of God in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte: "Let us go forward in hope! A new millennium is opening before the Church like a vast ocean upon which we shall venture, relying on the help of Christ. The Son of God, who became incarnate two thousand years ago out of love for humanity, is at work even today: we need discerning eyes to see this and, above all, a generous heart to become the instruments of his work" (n. 58).

3. Go forward in hope! Like your Founder, strive to keep your gaze fixed on the Redeemer and let yourselves be guided by Mary, his and our Mother. Only in this way can you be "collaborators, members and ministers of Jesus Christ in the great work of Redemption" (cf. Constitutions and Statutes of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, Rome, 2001, n. 2).

You are called to participate "in the Church's mission", combining the life of special dedication to God with missionary activity, following the example of our Saviour Jesus Christ in preaching the divine word to the poor, as he said of himself: "Evangelizare pauperibus misit me" (ibid.,n. 1). To carry out this special missionary service an intense personal and community prayer life is to be fostered above all.

The people that meet you must regard you as "men of God" and, in their contact with you, experience the love of the merciful heavenly Father, who did not hesitate to give his Only-begotten Son (cf. 1Jn 4,9-10) for the salvation of humanity. The interior disposition of Jesus the Good Shepherd must be seen in you, always in search of the lost sheep and ready to rejoice when it is found (cf. Lk Lc 15,3-7).

4. The Constitutions of your Institute invite you to recognize current pastoral needs, keeping in mind that your apostolate is characterized, more than by specific types of activity, by a loving service that is offered to those people and groups who are the most spiritually and socially abandoned and poor.

Carry out this apostolate with a "creative fidelity", which maintains the original inspiration, re-proposing the initiative, inventiveness and holiness of your Founder as a response to the signs of the times emerging in today's world (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata VC 37).

For numerous reasons, still in our day, many are far from Christ and the Church and many are still awaiting a first proclamation of the Gospel. Encouraged by the example of St Alphonsus and the other Saints and Blesseds of your Institute, do not hesitate to go towards these people, to present them with the Gospel in a language that is adapted to the various personal and local situations.

5. At the school of your Founder, be teachers of evangelical life, remind all the baptized of their call to holiness, the ""high standard' of ordinary Christian living" (Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 31), adopting the popular style which distinguishes your pastoral methodologies.

St Alphonsus Maria de' Liguori devoted his energies to educating Christian men and women in this awareness. "It is a great error", he wrote, "when some say that God does not want everyone to be saints. Rather, St Paul says: "This is the will of God, your sanctification' (1Th 4,3). God wants everyone to be holy, each one according to his state of life" (cf. Pratica di Amar Gesů Cristo in Opere Ascetiche [The Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ, in Ascetic Works], vol. 1, Rome, 1933, 79).

The search for holiness should be the foundation of every pastoral programme and your communities seen as an "oasis" of mercy and of welcome, schools of intense prayer that do not, however, distract us from our commitment to history (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 33).

The paths to holiness are personal and require a true and proper training in holiness, easily adaptable to each person's needs (cf. ibid., n. 31). In today's complex society, the importance of such apostolic service becomes all the more urgent, beginning with the young people who are often faced with conflicting choices in life. Share your charism with the laity, so that they too are able to "give their life for abundant redemption". In this way, your missionary service becomes a "service to culture, politics, the economy and the family" (ibid., n. 51).

6. If you announce with joy and a consistent life the "copiosa redemptio", you will bring about or strengthen the evangelical hope in the heart of many people, especially those most in need of it because they have been wounded by sin and its harmful consequences. I sincerely hope that from this Chapter assembly useful guidelines will emerge, directed towards an incisive apostolic programme which responds to the expectations and challenges of our times.

May Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help, together with your holy Founder and all of the saints and blesseds of your spiritual family, sustain you in this mission.

As I assure you of my constant remembrance at the altar, I extend to you, Reverend Father, to the Chapter Fathers and to the entire Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, a special Blessing.




Saturday, 4 October 2003

Most Reverend and Right Honourable
Rowan Williams
Archbishop of Canterbury

It is a great pleasure to welcome you here on this your first visit to the Apostolic See as Archbishop of Canterbury. You continue a tradition which began just before the Second Vatican Council, with the visit of Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher, and you are the fourth Archbishop of Canterbury whom I have had the pleasure of welcoming during my Pontificate. I also vividly recall my own visit to Canterbury in 1982, and the moving experience of praying at the tomb of Saint Thomas Becket with Archbishop Robert Runcie.

The four centuries following the sad division between us, during which time there was little or no contact between our predecessors, have given way to a pattern of grace-filled meetings between the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. These encounters have sought to renew the links between the See of Canterbury and the Apostolic See which have their origins in the sending by Pope Gregory the Great of Saint Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, to the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms in the late sixth century. In our own day, these meetings have also given expression to our anticipation of the full communion which the Holy Spirit desires for us and asks of us.

As we give thanks for the progress that has already been made we must also recognize that new and serious difficulties have arisen on the path to unity. These difficulties are not all of a merely disciplinary nature; some extend to essential matters of faith and morals. In light of this, we must reaffirm our obligation to listen attentively and honestly to the voice of Christ as it comes to us through the Gospel and the Church’s Apostolic Tradition. Faced with the increasing secularism of today’s world, the Church must ensure that the deposit of faith is proclaimed in its integrity and preserved from erroneous and misguided interpretations.

When our theological dialogue began, our predecessors Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey could not have known the exact route or duration of the path to full communion, but they knew that it would require patience and perseverance, and that it would come only as a gift of the Holy Spirit. The dialogue they initiated was to be "founded on the Gospels and on the ancient common traditions"; it was to be coupled with the fostering of collaboration which would "lead to a greater understanding and a deeper charity"; and the hope was expressed that with progress towards unity there might be "a strengthening of peace in the world, the peace that only He can grant Who gives ‘the peace that passeth all understanding’" (Common Declaration, 1966).

We must persevere in building on the work already achieved by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and on the initiatives of the recently established joint Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM). The world needs the witness of our unity, rooted in our common love for and obedience to Christ and his Gospel. It is fidelity to Christ which compels us to continue to search for full visible unity and to find appropriate ways of engaging, whenever possible, in common witness and mission.

I take heart that you have wished to pay a visit to me so early in your ministry as Archbishop of Canterbury. We share a desire to deepen our communion. I pray for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon you and your loved ones, upon those who have travelled here with you, and upon all the members of the Anglican Communion. May God keep you safe, watch over you always, and guide you in the exercise of your lofty responsibilities. On this feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, an apostle of peace and reconciliation, let us pray together that the Lord will make us instruments of His peace. Where there is injury, may we bring pardon; where there is hatred may we sow love; where there is despair, may our humble search for unity bring hope.



Monday, 6 October 2003

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I am pleased to meet you the day after the canonization of three shining witnesses of missionary commitment who are particularly dear to you: St Daniel Comboni, St Arnold Janssen and St Joseph Freinademetz. They are three "champions" of evangelization.

I cordially greet you all and I thank you for coming.

2. I greet you all, dear Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, who are continuing the apostolic action of St Daniel Comboni. He is rightly listed among the champions of the missionary movement that had an extraordinary reawakening in the 19th century. I greet in particular your recently elected Superior General, Fr Teresino Serra, and the Religious who are taking part in the General Chapter. I hope that the reflections and guidelines that result from the Chapter Assembly will imbue your institute with new missionary enthusiasm.

Next, I greet you, dear Comboni Missionary Sisters, and you, dear Secular Comboni Missionaries and dear Lay Comboni Missionaries, who are inspired by the charism of St Daniel Comboni.

May God make fruitful your every project, with which you constantly aim to spread the Gospel of hope. May he also bless your efforts in the context of human promotion and especially for youth. In this regard, I warmly hope that you will reconsider and bring to completion the project of founding a Catholic University in Sudan, the country that Comboni loved. I am sure that an important cultural institution like this will contribute a high quality service to the whole of Sudan society.

3. I now address you, dear pilgrims who have come to honour St Arnold Janssen and St Joseph Freinademetz. I greet you with special affection, dear members of the three Congregations of the Verbite religious family, with your respective Superiors General: Fr Antonio Pernia, Sr Agada Brand and Sr Mary Cecilia Hocbo.

Arnold Janssen was an ardent animator of the Church's mission in Central Europe. He showed courage by opening a missionary house in Steyl, in The Netherlands, when the Church was going through difficult times because of the so-called "Kulturkampf". By taking new and unexplored routes to spread the Gospel, he attracted numerous collaborators - priests, men and women religious and lay people - who carry on his apostolic work today.

4. I would now like to address a special greeting to you, dear relatives and pilgrims who have come from the Diocese of Bozen-Brixen, Bolzano-Bressanone, and in particular to the Ladin-speaking group. I greet you with affection, dear Ladin pilgrims. May St Joseph Freinademetz be an example for you of fidelity to Christ and to his Gospel! Providence, through the Society of the Divine Word, sent him to China where he stayed until he died.

"Your whole life for your beloved Chinese" was the formula that marked the day of his perpetual profession. With God's help he was always faithful to it. He made himself Chinese with the Chinese, assuming their mindset, practices and customs. He held these people in such sincere esteem and affection that he said: "I would like to be Chinese in Heaven.". From Heaven may he continue to watch over that nation and over the whole of the Asian continent.

5. Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us thank God for giving the Church St Daniel Comboni, St Arnold Janssen and St Joseph Freinademetz. May their example and their intercession encourage us to respond generously to our Christian vocation.

May the Virgin Mary help us, whom these new Saints loved as a tender Mother, experiencing her protection and comfort. I accompany you with my prayers as I bless you, your communities and all your loved ones.






Tuesday 7 October 2003

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. The Blessed Virgin has granted me to return to honour her at this famous Shrine which Providence inspired Bl. Bartolo Longo to found as a centre of outreach of the Holy Rosary.

In a certain sense, the Year of the Rosary culminates in today's visit. I thank the Lord for the fruits of the Year that has given rise to an important reawakening of this prayer, both simple and profound, that goes to the heart of Christian faith; it appears absolutely current as we stand before the challenge of the third millennium and the urgent commitment of the new evangelization.

2. The context of Pompei, the ancient Roman city buried under the ashes of Vesuvius in the year 79 A.D., highlights this timeliness in a special way. Those ruins speak. They ask the crucial question about man's destiny. They witness to a great culture yet, in addition to enlightened responses, they also disclose disturbing interrogatives. The Marian City was born from the heart of these questions, presenting the risen Christ as the response, the "Gospel" that saves.

Today, as in the times of ancient Pompei, it is vital to proclaim Christ to a society that is drifting away from Christian values and even forgetting about them. I thank the Italian Authorities for helping with the organization of my pilgrimage that began in the ancient City. It enabled me to cross the ideal bridge of a dialogue, undoubtedly fruitful, for cultural and spiritual growth. Against the background of ancient Pompei, the proposal of the Rosary acquires symbolic value as a renewed incentive to Christian proclamation in our time.

What actually is the Rosary? A compendium of the Gospel. It brings us back again and again to the most important scenes of Christ's life, almost as if to let us "breathe" his mystery. The Rosary is the privileged path to contemplation. It is, so to speak, Mary's way. Is there anyone who knows and loves Christ better than she?

Bl. Bartolo Longo, Apostle of the Rosary, was convinced of this; he paid special attention to the contemplative and Christological character of the Rosary. Thanks to this Blessed, Pompei has become an international centre for the spirituality of the Rosary.

3. I wanted my pilgrimage to have the meaning of a plea for peace. We have meditated upon the Mysteries of Light as if to turn the beam of Christ's light on the conflicts, tensions and dramas of the five Continents. In my Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, I explained why the Rosary is a prayer that by its very nature is oriented to peace. This is not only because it disposes us to pray for peace, strengthened by the intercession of Mary, but also because it enables us to assimilate Jesus' plan of peace, together with his mystery.

At the same time, with the tranquil rhythm of the repetition of the Hail Mary the Rosary calms our spirit and opens it to saving grace. Bl. Bartolo Longo had a prophetic intuition when he chose to add to the church dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary this facade as a monument to peace. So it was that the cause of peace came to be part of what the Rosary itself proposes. It is an intuition whose timeliness does not escape us at the beginning of this millennium, already so battered by the winds of war and streaked with blood in so many parts of the world.

4. The invitation to pray the Rosary that rises from Pompei, a crossroads of people of every culture who are attracted both by the Shrine and by the archaeological site, also calls to mind the commitment of Christians, in collaboration with all people of goodwill, to be builders and witnesses of peace. May civil society, represented here by the authorities and personalities whom I cordially greet, welcome this message ever more deeply.

May the ecclesial community of Pompei be ever more equal to facing this challenge. I greet its various members: the priests and deacons, the consecrated persons, especially the Dominican Daughters of the Holy Rosary who were founded precisely for the mission of this Shrine, and the lay people. My heartfelt thanks go to Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino for his warm words to me at the beginning of this meeting. An affectionate "thank you" to you all, devotees of the Queen of the Rosary of Pompei. May you be "peacemakers", following in the footsteps of Bl. Bartolo Longo, who knew how to combine prayer and action, making this Marian City a stronghold of charity. The new Centre for children and families, which you have kindly desired to name after me, demonstrates the heritage of this great work.

Dear Brothers and Sisters! May Our Lady of the Holy Rosary bless us as we prepare to call on her with the Supplication. Let us deposit our desires and our good resolutions in her maternal heart.

At the conclusion of the prayer service the Holy Father said:

Thank you, thank you, Pompei. Thank you to all the pilgrims for this warm and most beautiful welcome. Thank you to the Cardinals and to the Bishops present here. Thank you to the Authorities of the Country, of the Region and of the City. Thank you for the enthusiasm of the young people. Thank you, everyone. Pray for me in this Shrine, today and always.



Thursday, 9 October 2003

I am pleased to welcome the Board of Directors of the Knights of Columbus on the occasion of your meeting in Rome. I thank you for the prayerful good wishes which you have offered me, on behalf of all the Knights and their families, for the twenty-fifth anniversary of my election.

On this occasion I wish to express once more my deep gratitude for the unfailing support which your Order has given to the Church’s mission. This support is shown in a special way in the Vicarius Christi Fund, which is a sign of the solidarity of the Knights of Columbus with the Successor of Peter in his concern for the universal Church, but it is also seen in the daily prayers, sacrifices and apostolic works of so many Knights in their local Councils, their parishes and their communities. In fidelity to the vision of Father Michael McGivney, may you continue to seek new ways of being a leaven of the Gospel in the world and a spiritual force for the renewal of the Church in holiness, unity and truth.

To you, and to all the Knights and their families, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.



Thursday, 9 October 2003

Your Eminence,

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. On the occasion of your visit ad Limina Apostolorum I warmly welcome you, the Filipino Bishops from the Provinces of Caceres, Capiz, Cebu, Jaro and Palo. You are the second of three groups who are making this solemn pilgrimage to the city of the Apostles Peter and Paul. It is my fervent prayer that your time together with "the Successor of Peter" and those who assist him in his pastoral ministry will be a source of renewed zeal and strength for you when you return to your respective local Churches. I am especially pleased to greet Cardinal Vidal, and I thank him for the sentiments he conveyed on behalf of the Bishops, clergy, religious and faithful of your Dioceses.

As I mentioned to the first group of Bishops from the Philippines, the significant ecclesial events of the Second Plenary Council held in 1991 and the more recent National Pastoral Consultation on Church Renewal have had positive lasting effects in the lives of Filipino Catholics. The Plenary Council stressed the need for three fundamental pastoral initiatives: becoming a Church of the poor, developing into a community of disciples of the Lord, and engaging in renewed integral evangelization. Indeed, the challenge of fully implementing this threefold plan continues to breathe new life into the Filipino Church and Filipino society at large. Having already developed the theme of the Church of the poor in my comments to the first group of Bishops, I now focus my attention on the second priority: becoming a true community of disciples of the Lord.

2. The National Pastoral Consultation describes the Church in the Philippines as "the community of disciples who firmly believe in the Lord Jesus and who joyfully live in harmony and solidarity with one another, with creation and with God" (Vision-Mission Statement of the Church in the Philippines). This brings to mind the teaching of Jesus in the Gospel of John, when he explains that being a disciple of the Lord is not a whimsical decision but is instead a serious, loving response to a personal invitation: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should bear fruit and that your fruit should abide. This I command you, to love one another" (Jn 15,16). The manner in which the disciples express their love is one of the many topics that you and your Brother Bishops sought to address, clearly teaching that to become a true follower of Christ requires "integral faith formation". In fact, it is only through this authentic discipleship, based on loving solidarity, that the Philippines can begin to resolve the worrisome dichotomy between faith and life which plagues so many modern societies.

3. In my Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia I mentioned the pride which Asians take in their religious and cultural values of love of silence, contemplation, simplicity and harmony, to name but a few. "All of this indicates an innate spiritual insight and moral wisdom in the Asian soul" (No. 6). This "spiritual insight" is clearly witnessed in the deep religious sentiments of the Filipino people and is fertile ground in which to nurture the disposition that leads every Christian to a more authentic discipleship. Your Pastoral Letter on spirituality explains that it is Christ-centered commitment which defines your people as pilgrims on the way to their true home. Regular attendance at Sunday Mass, active participation in parish activities and feasts, impressive Marian devotions and the large number of national shrines in your country are but a few examples of the rich Christian heritage which constitutes an integral part of your country’s life and culture. Notwithstanding these positive aspects, there still exist certain contradictions among Christians and in Filipino society at large. These incongruities can only be rectified by your being fully opened to Christ’s spirit, going into the world and transforming it into a culture of justice and peace (cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem AA 4).

4. Fulfilling these noble aims necessitates a commitment on your part to prepare the lay faithful to be true disciples for the world. It is the Pastors of local Churches who ensure that the laity has at its disposal programs of spirituality and catechesis to prepare it for this mission. I am encouraged to see the many ways in which the Church in the Philippines strives to fulfill this responsibility. This is apparent not only in the educational opportunities offered by so many Dioceses but also in the various lay organizations and in the small faith communities and movements which are thriving in your country. Although these groups may seem quite diverse at first glance, in fact "they all come together in an all-inclusive and profound convergence when viewed from the perspective of their common purpose" (Christifideles Laici CL 29). This is especially the case when such groups are actively involved in parish life and maintain a relationship of open and affectionate communication with one another, their parish priests and their Bishops. As Christ teaches "By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn 13,34).

5. One of the major contributions the Church can make in guaranteeing a solid preparation of the laity is to ensure that seminaries and religious houses are training future priests to be dedicated disciples of the Word and Sacrament. It is a complex process that begins with the proper selection of candidates. In this regard, I recommend that you and your priests actively search for good, pious and well-balanced young men for the priesthood and challenge them to be not afraid " to put out into the deep" for a catch of inestimable value (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 1).

Once a candidate is selected, the process of preparing him to be a good and holy priest begins. This demands that "the spiritual formation and doctrinal instruction of the students in a seminary be harmoniously blended" (Codex Iuris Canonici, c. 244) and supervised by well-trained formators. We can speak here of the diverse types of formation: human formation, which assists the candidate to live and internalize priestly virtues, especially those of simplicity, chastity, prudence, patience and obedience; intellectual formation, which emphasizes an in-depth study of philosophy and theology, at all times maintaining fidelity to the teachings of the Magisterium; pastoral formation, which enables the candidate to apply theological principles to pastoral praxis; and spiritual formation, which stresses the essential need for regular celebration of the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of penance, together with private and devotional prayer and frequent visits with a spiritual director (cf. Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 43-59, Codex Iuris Canonici, c. 246 ). Any course of priestly formation which offers these elements will indeed produce ministers who will joyously "struggle to be faithful to the Lord and to serve his flock unswervingly" (Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 82).

6. The National Pastoral Council discussed at great length the need to support and assist priests in their ministry and resolved to "seek creative ways of ongoing formation" for the clergy (Proceedings and Addresses of the NPCCR, January 2001, p. 59). This may be likened to the continuing renewal of "spirit and mind" that Saint Paul writes about in his Letter to the Ephesians (cf. 4:23-24). As in the case of the formation of seminarians, priestly formation demands a "harmoniously blended" approach which at all times promotes the priestly virtues of charity, prayer, chastity and faithful celebration of the liturgy, practices unappreciated or even rejected by modern culture and its media.

Today’s clergy must be careful not to adopt the secular view of the priesthood as a "profession", a "career" and a means of earning a living. Rather, the clergy must see the priesthood as a vocation to selfless, loving service, embracing wholeheartedly the "esteemed gift of celibacy" and all that this involves. Here I wish to emphasize that celibacy is to be regarded as an integral part of the priest’s exterior and interior life, and not just as a long-standing ideal which is to be respected (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 16). Sadly, the lifestyle of some clergy has been a countersign to the spirit of the evangelical counsels which should be a part of the spirituality of every priest. The scandalous behavior of a few has undermined the credibility of many. I wish you to know that I am aware of the sensitive way in which you have attempted to address this issue, and I encourage you not to lose hope. True discipleship calls for love, compassion and at times strict discipline in order to serve the common good. Always be just and always be merciful.

7. Dear Brothers, as you prepare for your return home I leave you with these reflections, knowing that you will continue to guide your people effectively on the lifelong pilgrimage of true discipleship. Take consolation in the fact that you are not alone on this journey, as our beloved Mother Mary, the Morning Star that lights up our lives and banishes the darkness of night accompanies you, ushering you and your faithful into the new dawn (cf. Pastoral Letter on Filipino Spirituality). As a pledge of joy and peace in her Son, the Santo Nińo, I impart my Apostolic Blessing.

Speeches 2003 - Monday, 29 September 2003