Speeches 2004 - Les Combes, Valle d'Aosta

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Agust 2004
26th ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF POPE PAUL VI


ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

Castel Gandolfo

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Friday, 6 August 2004






Dear Friends,

This day on which we are celebrating the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord brings back memories of our beloved and venerable Servant of God Pope Paul VI. On the evening of 6 August 1978 he concluded his life on earth here in this very house. A faithful imitator of his Lord, he received the light of Tabor in his heart and walked in that light to the end, carrying his cross with evangelical joy.

The 6th of August is not only the anniversary of his death, but also that of his first Encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam, which bears the date of the Transfiguration 40 years ago. In that memorable Document, Paul VI outlined the programme of his Pontificate.

In celebrating the Eucharist, we thank God once again for having given the Church this unforgettable Pastor. Entrusting ourselves to the intercession of Mary Most Holy, let us ask the Lord to enable the Church, today and in the future, to treasure his example and teaching.



PILGRIMAGE

OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II

TO LOURDES ON THE OCCASION OF 150TH ANNIVERSARY

OF THE PROMULGATION OF THE DOGMA

OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION



TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF FRANCE

Tarbes, 14 August 2004

Mr President,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen!

1. I thank the Lord for allowing me to return once again to this beloved land of France and to greet all of you with a heartfelt message of grace and peace. The purpose of my visit today is to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

With great emotion I wish to join the millions of pilgrims who come to Lourdes each year from every part of the world, in order to entrust to the Mother of the Lord the intentions which they bear in their hearts and to ask for her help and intercession.

2. As I make my way to that holy place, I wish first to extend my cordial greetings to you, Mr President, and, through you, to all the sons and daughters of this noble country, which is presently commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the "landing in Provence". May these celebrations contribute to building harmony between peoples and foster a renewed commitment to the pursuit of peace on the part of all.

I joyfully recall my previous visits to France and gladly take this opportunity to pay homage to the great patrimony of culture and faith which have marked her history. I cannot fail to mention the great Saints who came from this land, the outstanding masters of Christian thought, the schools of spirituality and the many missionaries who left their homeland in order to carry throughout the world the message of Christ the Lord. And I look with confidence to the Christian community of today, which generously takes up the call to enrich our own times with the wisdom and hope that come from the Gospel.

3. With respect for the responsibilities and competences of all, the Catholic Church desires to offer society a specific contribution towards the building of a world in which the great ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity can form the basis of social life, in the tireless pursuit and promotion of the common good.

I entrust these prayerful good wishes to the intercession of the young Bernadette Soubirous, a humble child of the Bigorre country, and through the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary I invoke upon this country Godís choicest blessings, as a pledge of prosperity and peace, now and in the future.



PILGRIMAGE

OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II

TO LOURDES ON THE OCCASION OF 150TH ANNIVERSARY

OF THE PROMULGATION OF THE DOGMA

OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

PRAYER AT THE GROTTO OF MASSABIELLE

GREETING OF JOHN PAUL II

TO THE SICK

Saturday, 14 August 2004

Here at this Grotto of Massabielle, I wish first of all to greet the sick who come in ever greater numbers to this Shrine, those who have accompanied them, their caregivers and their families.


I am here with you, dear brothers and sisters, as a pilgrim to Our Lady. I make my own your prayers and your hopes. With you I share a time of life marked by physical suffering, yet not for that reason any less fruitful in Godís wondrous plan. With you I pray for all those who trust in your prayers.

In carrying out my apostolic ministry I have always trusted greatly in the offerings, prayers and sacrifices of the suffering. During this pilgrimage I ask you to join me in offering to God, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, all the intentions of the Church and of the world.

Dear brothers and sisters who are sick, how I would like to embrace each and every one of you with affection, to tell you how close I am to you and how much I support you. I now do so in spirit, entrusting you to the maternal love of the Mother of the Lord and entreating her to obtain for all of us the blessings and consolations of Jesus her Son.



PILGRIMAGE

OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II

TO LOURDES ON THE OCCASION OF 150TH ANNIVERSARY

OF THE PROMULGATION OF THE DOGMA

OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

INTRODUCTION OF THE HOLY FATHER JOHN PAUL II

TO THE RECITATION OF THE ROSARY

Grotto of Massabielle, 14 August 2004

My dear Brothers and Sisters!


1. Kneeling here, before the grotto of Massabielle, I feel deeply that I have reached the goal of my pilgrimage. This cave, where Mary appeared, is the heart of Lourdes. It reminds us of the cave of Mount Horeb where Elijah met the Lord, who spoke to him in "a still small voice" (1R 19,12).

Here the Blessed Virgin asked Bernadette to recite the Rosary, as she herself told the beads. This grotto has thus become a unique school of prayer where Mary teaches everyone to gaze with burning love upon the face of Christ.

Lourdes is the place, then, where the Christians of France, and those from so many other nations of Europe and the world, fall to their knees and pray.

2. As pilgrims to Lourdes, we too wish this evening to retrace in prayer, together with Mary our Mother, the "mysteries" in which Jesus reveals that he is the "light of the world". We recall his promise: "He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (Jn 8,12).

We wish to learn from the lowly handmaid of the Lord an attitude of docility and openness to the word of God and a generous commitment to welcoming Christís teaching into our lives.

In particular, as we meditate on the sharing of the Lordís Mother in her Sonís redemptive mission, I would ask you to to pray for vocations to the priesthood and to virginity for the Kingdom of God, so that all those who are called will respond with generosity and perseverance.

3. As we turn to Mary Most Holy, let us pray together with Bernadette: "Good Mother, have mercy on me; I give myself entirely to you, that you may give me to your dear Son, whom I wish to love with my whole heart. Good Mother, grant me a heart all aflame for Jesus".



PRAYER OF THE HOLY FATHER

AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE ROSARY


(Esplanade of the Basilica of the Rosary, 14 August 2004)




Hail Mary, poor and humble Woman,
Blessed by the Most High!
Virgin of hope, dawn of a new era,
We join in your song of praise,
to celebrate the Lordís mercy,
to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom
and the full liberation of humanity.

Hail Mary, lowly handmaid of the Lord,
Glorious Mother of Christ!
Faithful Virgin, holy dwelling-place of the Word,
Teach us to persevere in listening to the Word,
and to be docile to the voice of the Spirit,
attentive to his promptings in the depths of our conscience
and to his manifestations in the events of history.

Hail Mary, Woman of sorrows,
Mother of the living!
Virgin spouse beneath the Cross, the new Eve,
Be our guide along the paths of the world.
Teach us to experience and to spread the love of Christ,
to stand with you before the innumerable crosses
on which your Son is still crucified.

Hail Mary, woman of faith,
First of the disciples!
Virgin Mother of the Church, help us always
to account for the hope that is in us,
with trust in human goodness and the Fatherís love.
Teach us to build up the world beginning from within:
in the depths of silence and prayer,
in the joy of fraternal love,
in the unique fruitfulness of the Cross.

Holy Mary, Mother of believers,
Our Lady of Lourdes,
pray for us.
Amen.



PILGRIMAGE

OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II

TO LOURDES ON THE OCCASION OF 150TH ANNIVERSARY

OF THE PROMULGATION OF THE DOGMA

OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

INTRODUCTION OF THE HOLY FATHER JOHN PAUL II

TO THE TORCHLIGHT PROCESSION


Accueil Notre-Dame, 14 August 2004



Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. When the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in the grotto at Massabielle, she began a dialogue between Heaven and earth which has lasted through time and continues to this day. Speaking to the young girl, Mary asked that people should come here in procession, as if to signify that this dialogue cannot be limited to words, but must become a journey at her side along the pilgrim way of faith, hope and love.

Here in Lourdes, for more than a century the Christian people have faithfully responded to that maternal summons, walking each day behind Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and processing each night amid songs and prayers in honour of the Lordís Mother.

This year the Pope joins you in this act of devotion and love for the Most Holy Virgin, the glorious woman of the Book of Revelation, crowned with twelve stars (cf. Rev Ap 12,1). Holding in our hands the lighted torch, we recall and profess our faith in the Risen Christ. From Him the whole of our life receives light and hope.

2. To you, dear brothers and sisters, I entrust a particular intention for our prayer this evening: join me in imploring the Virgin Mary to obtain for our world the longed-for gift of peace.

May forgiveness and brotherly love take root in human hearts. May every weapon be laid down, and all hatred and violence put aside.

May everyone see in his neighbour not an enemy to be fought, but a brother to be accepted and loved, so that we may join in building a better world.

3. Together let us invoke the Queen of Peace and renew our commitment to the service of reconciliation, dialogue and solidarity. In this way we shall merit the happiness which the Lord has promised to the peacemakers (Mt 5,9).

I accompany you with my prayer and my blessing.

May God bless you!



JOHN PAUL II

GENERAL AUDIENCE


Wednesday, 25 August 2004

Liturgy of the Word in honour

of the Icon of the Mother of God of Kazan

Homily


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. Today, as I announced last Sunday, our traditional weekly meeting has a special profile. Indeed, here we are gathered in prayer around the venerable Icon of the Mother of God of Kazan, which is on the point of setting out on the return journey to Russia, which it left one day long ago.

After passing through various countries and staying a long time at the Shrine of Fatima in Portugal, it providentially arrived at the Pope's dwelling more than 10 years ago. Since then, it has found a home with me and has accompanied my daily service to the Church with its motherly gaze.

How often since that day have I called on the Mother of God of Kazan, asking her to protect and guide the Russian people who venerate her, and to hasten the moment when all the disciples of her Son, recognizing one another as brothers and sisters, will be able to fully restore the compromised unity.

2. From the very first, I wanted this holy Icon to return to its own Land of Russia, where, according to reliable historical accounts, it was for a great many years the object of profound veneration on the part of entire generations of the faithful. It was around the Icon of the Mother of God of Kazan that the history of that great people developed.

Russia is a Nation which has been Christian for many centuries; it is the Holy Rus'. Even when hostile forces furiously attacked the Church and endeavoured to cancel the holy Name of God from human lives, that people remained profoundly Christian, witnessing in many cases with blood to their fidelity to the Gospel and the values it inspires.

Therefore, deeply moved, I give thanks with you to divine Providence, which today has granted me to send this holy Icon as a gift to the venerable Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

3. May the ancient image of the Mother of the Lord tell His Holiness Alexei II and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Successor of Peter's affection for them and for all the faithful entrusted to their care. May it speak of his esteem for the great spiritual tradition of which the Holy Russian Church is custodian. May it speak of the desire and firm determination of the Pope of Rome to progress with them on the journey of reciprocal knowledge and reconciliation, to hasten the day of that full unity of believers for which the Lord Jesus ardently prayed (cf. Jn Jn 17,20-22).

Dear brothers and sisters, join me in invoking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as I entrust her Icon to the Delegation which, in my name, will be taking the Icon to Moscow.
September 2004



TO H.E. Mr JUAN GAVARRETE SOBER”N

AMBASSADOR OF GUATEMALA TO THE HOLY SEE

Thursday, 2 September 2004



Mr Ambassador,

I am pleased to receive you at this ceremony for the presentation of your Letters of Credence as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Guatemala to the Holy See. I offer you a cordial welcome and thank you for your kind words, as well as for the greetings from your President. H.E. Mr Oscar Berger Perdomo, which I reciprocate; please convey to him my best wishes for the peace and well-being of the entire Guatemalan People.

Your Country, Mr Ambassador, is known as "the land of eternal springtime". Providence has permitted me to visit it three times since my election as Successor of Peter. I have thus been able to come into contact with this noble People whose ancestry is millenary. The proclamation of the Gospel has given rise to manifestations of faith that are deeply rooted in the Guatemalan culture. I recall the beauty of your landscapes, the hospitable character of your People and especially the pure faith of the Ecclesial Community that lives there. The joyful and devout experience of faith in Jesus Christ is most solemnly expressed in the celebrations for the Holy Week procession that overflow with love for the Redeemer of man who died and rose.

My first two Visits to Guatemala were in 1983 and 1996, when a grievous civil war was still being fought and was causing so many deaths.

My third Visit, in July 2002 after the Peace Agreements had been signed, enabled me to meet a cheerful people full of hope following the results obtained. On that occasion I canonized Br Pedro de San Josť de Betancurt in a vast celebration that gathered the faithful from all over Guatemala and Central America. They thanked God for the gift of this humble saint who, although he was a native of the Canary Islands, chose this Country in which to become holy on the path of charity, prayer and penance, as well as by service to the poor and the sick. His memory stays alive and his charism lives on in the Bethlemita Order; inspired by his teachings, it has brought forth abundant fruits of holiness, such as Mother Encarnaciůn Rosal who was the first Guatemalan Blessed.

In the Messages I delivered on these Visits, I wanted to express my affection for the beloved Guatemalan People, but also my concern at the human and social problems with which they have to deal. I am pleased to note that the protection of human life from conception to natural death is recognized in your Nation's Constitution, which does Guatemala honour. In this area as in others, when civil legislation embraces natural law peoples advance on the path to peace and progress.

Mr Ambassador, you referred in your address to the Government's desire to fight all forms of corruption, to reduce the gap between those who have everything and those who lack the basic necessities, and to join forces to continue building a better Nation.

Transparency and integrity in public management foster among citizens an atmosphere of credibility and trust in their leaders and lay the basis of a just and desirable development.

In this task, the public Authorities will find in the Church, with her simple resources but the strength of her firm convictions, an appropriate collaboration in the search for solutions, recognizing her efforts to increase the citizens' awareness and sense of responsibility and fostering the participation of all.

Guatemala cannot disregard the violence that unfortunately harasses many, even after the end of the civil conflict. I would like to remind you that among the many victims there has been no lack of ministers of the Church and servants of the Gospel, such as Bishop Juan Gerardi who was assassinated in 1998 and whose case has not been fully solved, as well as various priests and catechists. No stone should be left unturned in the effort to achieve social peace in the Country and the reconciliation of all the citizens.

Another problem is the poverty that affects the lives of so many of your fellow citizens. The effort to meet the needs of the most deprived must be considered a fundamental priority. I am pleased that it is an objective to which your Government is dedicating energy and funds. Many of those who suffer this social scourge belong to the indigenous populations.

Although it is true that some of the poor have managed to achieve a more dignified lifestyle with greater educational opportunities and a more numerous presence on the national scene, others are submerged in poverty and alienation. The rapid changes in the international economy and the fall in the price of agricultural products have put many in a difficult situation.

The Church, mother and teacher faithful to her mission, closely accompanies the many farming families who today are suffering the consequences of this crisis. This is another of those areas in which the various public bodies and the Ecclesial Community can profitably combine their action in the service and advancement of the poor.

Before concluding this meeting, I would also like to address a word of closeness and encouragement to the large Guatemalan community that has emigrated to other countries, mainly to North America. The distance of these people from their Homeland is a consequence of their desire to find a better standard of life. Nevertheless, they should not forget that they must preserve and increase the rich cultural and religious values that are part of the knowledge they took with them, and in their present situation they should feel committed to contributing solutions to the Country of their birth, which still today continues to consider them as its sons and daughters in spite of the distance and time.

Mr Ambassador, I would now like to offer you my very best wishes for the fulfilment of your mission to this Apostolic See. Please convey my greeting to the President of the Republic and to all the People of Guatemala, with the reassurance of my prayers for their integral development. I ask God to help you in the mission you are beginning today, and I invoke every heavenly Blessing upon you, your distinguished family, your collaborators as well as the government Authorities and citizens of Guatemala.


TO THE BISHOPS OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL PROVINCES

OF BOSTON AND HARTFORD (U.S.A.)

ON THEIR "AD LIMINA" VISIT

Thursday, 2 September 2004



Dear Brother Bishops,

1. Through the gift of God we have become "ministers of the Gospel" and received the grace "to preach to the nations the unfathomable riches of Jesus Christ". Echoing these words of the Apostle Paul (cf. Eph Ep 3,7-8), and in a spirit of gratitude for our common calling, I warmly welcome you, my brother Bishops of the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston and Hartford, on the occasion of your quinquennial visit to the tombs of the Apostles and the See of Peter. Taking up once again my series of reflections on the teaching office entrusted to Bishops within the communion of the People of God, I wish to consider some particular concerns facing the Church in the United States as she carries out her duty to proclaim the Gospel and to lead all people to the fullness of faith, freedom and salvation in Christ.

2. Throughout these reflections on the exercise of the munus episcopale propheticum I have more than once drawn attention to the importance of the evangelization of culture. A fundamental challenge in this area is surely that of bringing about a fruitful encounter between the Gospel and the new global culture which is rapidly taking shape as a result of unprecedented growth in communications and the expansion of a world economy. I am convinced that the Church in the United States can play a critical role in meeting this challenge, since this emerging reality is in many ways the fruit of contemporary Western, and particularly American, experiences, attitudes and ideals. The new evangelization calls for a clear discernment of the profound spiritual needs and aspirations of a culture which, for all its aspects of materialism and relativism, is nonetheless profoundly attracted to the primordially religious dimension of the human experience and is struggling to rediscover its spiritual roots.

For the Church in America, the evangelization of culture can thus offer a unique contribution to the Churchís mission ad gentes in our day. Through her preaching, her catechesis and her public witness, the Church in your country is challenged to develop a new kerygmatic style, one capable of appealing to the spiritual needs of contemporary men and women and of offering them a clear and convincing response grounded in the truth of the Gospel. Catholics of all ages must be helped to appreciate more fully the distinctiveness of the Christian message, its capacity to satisfy the deepest yearnings of the human heart in every age, and the beauty of its summons to a life completely centered on faith in the Triune God, obedience to his revealed word and loving configuration to Christís paschal mystery, in which we see disclosed the full measure of our humanity and our supernatural call to fulfillment in love (cf. Gaudium et Spes GS 22).

3. The Church in the United States has long been committed to making her voice heard in public debate in the defense of fundamental human rights, the dignity of the person and the ethical requirements of a just and well-ordered society. In a pluralistic nation like your own, this has necessarily involved practical cooperation with men and women of various religious beliefs, and with all people of good will, in the service of the common good. I am deeply appreciative of your continuing efforts to promote ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue on every level of the Churchís life, not only as a means of overcoming misunderstandings between believers, but also for fostering a sense of common responsibility for the building of a future of peace. As the tragic events of 11 September 2001 have made clear, the building of a global culture of solidarity and respect for human dignity is one of the great moral tasks confronting humanity today. In the end, it is in the conversion of hearts and the spiritual renewal of humanity that the hope of a better tomorrow lies, and here the witness, example and cooperation of religious believers has a unique role to play.

4. I also wish to express my personal gratitude for the traditional generosity of the faithful of the United States to the Churchís mission ad gentes through the training and sending forth of generations of missionaries and through the contributions of countless Catholics to the foreign missions. I encourage you to make every effort to revive this powerful manifestation of solidarity with the universal Church. History bears witness that a sustained commitment to the mission ad gentes renews the whole Church, strengthens the faith of individuals and communities, reinforces their Christian identity, and gives rise to fresh enthusiasm for overcoming the challenges and difficulties of the moment (cf. Redemptoris Missio RMi 2). May the Church in your country discover the sources for a profound interior renewal through a revitalization of missionary zeal, above all by promoting vocations to missionary Institutes and proposing, especially to young people, the lofty ideal of a life completely devoted to the Gospel.

5. More than once in the course of these meetings I have told you of my admiration for the outstanding contribution which the Catholic community in the United States has made to the spread of the Gospel, the care of the poor, the sick and those in need, and the defense of fundamental human and Christian values. Today I wish to encourage you, and through you, all the Catholics of America, to continue to bear faithful testimony to the truth of Christ and the power of his grace to inspire wisdom, reconcile differences, heal wounds and point to a future of hope. The Church in your country has been chastened by the events of the past two years, and much effort has rightly been expended on understanding and addressing the issues of sexual abuse which have cast a shadow on her life and ministry. As you continue to confront the significant spiritual and material challenges which your local Churches are experiencing in this regard, I ask you to encourage all the faithful Ė clergy, religious and lay Ė to persevere in their public witness of faith and hope, so that Christís light, which can never be dimmed (cf. Jn Jn 1,5), will continue to shine forth in and through the Churchís entire life and ministry.

In a particular way I would ask you to be strongly supportive of your brother priests, many of whom have suffered deeply because of the much-publicized failings of some of the Churchís ministers. I would ask you also to convey my personal gratitude for the generous and selfless service which mark the lives of so many American priests, as well as my deep appreciation of their daily efforts to be models of holiness and pastoral charity in the Christian communities entrusted to their care. In a very real way the renewal of the Church is linked to the renewal of the priesthood (cf. Optatam Totius OT 1). For this reason I ask you to make every effort to be present as a father and a brother in the midst of your priests, to show heartfelt gratitude for their ministry, to join them frequently in prayer and to encourage them in fidelity to their noble vocation as men completely consecrated to the service of the Lord and his Church. In a word, tell your priests that I hold them in my heart!

6. At the conclusion of these reflections on our responsibility for the Churchís prophetic witness before the world, I once more express my conviction, born of faith, that God is even now preparing a great springtime for the Gospel (cf. Redemptoris Missio RMi 86), and that this calls all of us to "open the doors to Christ" in every aspect of our life and activity. As I suggested in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, ours is the wonderful yet demanding responsibility of reflecting Christ, the light of the world. Indeed, "this is a daunting task if we consider our human weakness, which so often renders us opaque and full of shadows. But it is a task we can accomplish if we remain ever turned to the light of Christ and open to the grace which makes us a new creation" (op. cit., 54).

Dear Brother Bishops, as I set this challenge before you, I assure you once more of my confidence and my fraternal affection. Entrusting you and the clergy, religious, and lay faithful of your particular Churches to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord.




TO THE MEMBERS OF VARIOUS EUROPEAN

YOUTH GROUPS AND MOVEMENTS

Thursday, 2 September 2004



1. Message of European Christian Youth


Dear Young Friends,

1. It is my pleasure to welcome you and I fondly greet you. I thank you from my heart for your presence here and this important sign of communion. I especially thank the young woman who spoke on behalf of everyone.

The "Declaration of European Christian Youth" that you have come to consign to me is a fruit of the recent European youth pilgrimage to the tomb of James the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela, a significant meeting point, thanks to which Europeans throughout the past centuries have learned to know and reciprocally accept one another, thereby contributing to the development of Europe.

2. Witnesses of Christ in order to build a Europe of hope. This is the message that you want to broadcast to your contemporaries and to the entire European community of today. The dream alive in your heart is one of a Europe proud of its rich cultural and religious patrimony and at the same time sensitive to the values of humanity and life, solidarity and openness, justice and peace.

You are not ashamed of the Gospel and know well that the civilization of love is constructed by discovering new syntheses between Gospel and culture, not by separating them.

You intend to follow this path in order to create a Continent rich above all in values, keeping history in mind so as to not forget past errors and, what is more, to strengthen one's own spiritual roots.

3. To fulfil this mission, faithfulness to Christ and his Church is necessary, along with coherence and courage to the point of the heroism of sanctity. This is the itinerary followed by the saints of Europe of the past centuries. May their witness be an incentive for each one of you, dear young people, listening to me by radio or television.

May the Virgin Mary protect you, she who throughout the centuries has welcomed into the humble house of Loreto countless pilgrims from all corners of Europe.

The Pope joins in your prayer; and while he encourages you to openly witness to Christ, he imparts upon you all his heartfelt Blessing.



MESSAGE OF EUROPEAN CHRISTIAN YOUTH,

PILGRIMS TO SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA 2004


"Europe: find yourself again! Be yourself!"
(John Paul II, A Declaration to Europe, Santiago de Compostela, 9 November 1982; L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ORE], 29 November, p. 6)

"Young people: courageously set about building the Europe of hope, faithful to its own roots, the land of acceptance, solidarity and peace for all"
(Prayer Vigil for Youth, Loreto, Italy, 9 September 1995, n. 5; ORE, 13 September, p. 21)

Our journey

We have come as pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela from various countries of Europe. Together, we have reflected on being witnesses of Christ for a Europe of hope.

We have done so in a place that is at the root of the European identity: peoples have met at James the Apostle's tomb and have learned to know one another and live side-by-side.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, in 1948, thousands of young people from all over Europe met here, united by the same faith, to dream together of a future of peace.

Many of their dreams have come true; others have yet to be fulfilled.

We accept this inheritance in order to give a Christian soul to the process of European integration.
This is why we are convinced that young people should be given credit and permitted to be the protagonists of the Continent's development, and that room should be made for them to assume responsibilities in political, social, financial and ecclesial life.

We want a welcoming, supportive, respectful, understanding Europe, one that is capable of integration; a Europe that works for peace and freedom and is aware of its own past.

We are thinking of a Europe founded on the values of generosity and self-giving, of interiority and the sincere search for the truth.

We believe in the centrality of personal dignity, we seek respect for the right to life, we believe that the development of every individual must take place in a real family.

We maintain that these values should be protected from the threat of individualism, consumerism, ethical relativism and superficiality.

Steps to be taken

The Europe of the future faces many challenges. As young Christians we feel that some of these call us into question in a particular way.

Mobility and intercultural dialogue

We live in an ever smaller world, in which we move rapidly and exchange culture and training in new and original forms of communication. Many young people travel for study or work; others for tourism; yet others go in search of a "promised land".

We do not want this to be an occasion for confusion or conflict, but to provide an opportunity for self-appraisal by comparing ourselves with others.

We believe it is necessary to build a "European" culture, to be able to collaborate with the nations on the Continent and initiate dialogue with the cultures of the East and of the South of the world.
We undertake to welcome every person and to make the most of the opportunities available to us for contact with others, as well as to create new networks of relations to help overcome cultural barriers, developing reciprocal understanding through the media of art, music, sport, religion.

Education, formation, occupation

Well-tested and positive experiences of student exchanges exist that give a glimpse of a future Continent-wide educational system. We also recognize the tendency to greater mobility of young workers across Europe.

We would like a common market of free ideas and access within a scholastic educational system that can develop the whole person, in the human, cultural, social and spiritual dimensions, and that can accompany young people in the new forms of access to employment.

Let us strive to further a culture of human and Christian values, to increase European knowledge in the educational environment and to become educators for the future generations.

The family

In the experience of many young people the family has a fundamental role as a nucleus of stability and a school of values for their own personal growth. Whereas, others often painfully experience the instability of their emotional ties.

We would like a Europe in which children can grow up in a serene environment, guaranteed and encouraged by appropriate family policies that are particularly attentive to young newly-married couples.

As citizens, we wish to protect the family founded on marriage; as children, let us strive to live it as a place of respectful coexistence between the generations; as young people, let us learn to appreciate the value of reciprocal attention staked on responsibility for others and for the community in which we live.

Citizenship and participation

The European Union, which is the result of a fruitful political endeavour, has made it possible to harmonize the economic and juridical systems of very different countries. May the involvement of European citizens and especially of young people "from the bottom level", be consistently promoted.
We shall endeavour to overcome an individualistic approach to human rights, to recognize, develop and appreciate the presence of individuals in those intermediate realities of social participation (families, associations, religious communities, organizations) that are places in which democracy is tested and matures.

Peace and development

The desire for peace which has given birth to the European Union is still its goal today. We young Europeans know that our decisions influence the present and future of the rest of the inhabitants of the globe.

We want the person and his or her dignity always to be at the centre of the processes of social, economic, cultural and environmental development, in a Europe that promotes peace and justice on the world scene.

Let us try to adopt sustainable lifestyles and learn to manage conflicts without violence. Let us profit by the experiences of volunteer work and international cooperation that can contribute to the formation of new European citizens.

Information

We young Europeans have more and more possibilities open to us and many means of accessing information. However, certain problems arise: from the lack of European information to the ineffective protection of freedom and truth, in the name of economic, political or nationalistic interests.

We want transparency in information, in the media and in relations between the public institutions and citizens, which helps us to feel like Europeans.

We shall try to use the media to create the necessary spaces for critical analysis of information received and to encourage access to all that leads to greater knowledge of the situations of the other countries on the continent.

Travelling companions

As we face these vast prospects, we feel the need to ask for the company of our peers and of people of good will, to whom we propose:

To other young Christians

Be glad to be Christians!

As the Apostle James said, be witnesses of Christ in deed and in word, living with joy in the Church and helping her to keep up with the times.

Prepare yourselves seriously, with prayer, study, personal involvement, to be an important presence in the neighbourhood, in the parish, in associations, in the world of work.

Without fear or complexes, be "young people in the Church, Christians in the world".

To all other young people

Together and without prejudices, we can bring about a "peaceful revolution" to build a more democratic, more just Europe, one that is an expression of civil society.

We suggest that you put the person at the centre of every project, believing in and staking everything on his or her full development.

We offer Christ to you as a reference and model of life, who can give meaning to your existence and satisfy your thirst for happiness.

To adults

Do not be afraid of being adults!

We need people to guide us and to be examples of life.

Let us establish a dialogue in order to share our experiences and hopes, to collaborate together, conscious of the fact that it will be we who carry forward the building of Europe.

We ask you to trust young people and to support us, allowing our youth to challenge you.

We know that the other continents are looking to Europe and to its young people, awaiting a courageous response to the challenges that the third millennium proposes to humanity.

We feel that with the help of God, we can build a Europe of hope, responding to Christ's call with the same enthusiasm as the Apostle James: We can do it!

Monte do Gozo
7 August 2004

Speeches 2004 - Les Combes, Valle d'Aosta